“Often, where the relationship or marriage is long-standing, abuse has become the norm”

Call handler and caseworker James provides an insight into his role at the DA Alliance.

“My day usually starts with making calls to anyone that has been referred to our service overnight. I help guide people through their legal options and, where required, begin the process of preparing an application for a protection order. This involves making an assessment for legal aid and taking a witness statement from the person, detailing the abuse that has been perpetrated against them.

“Then I will talk them through the next stages of their application, before handing the case over to one of our trusted legal partners for completion. If someone is not eligible for a protection order, we will look to offer them another support mechanism to help their situation. This could involve issuing a warning letter to their perpetrator or signposting the person to other emotional and practical support.

“Working at the DA Alliance has been the perfect platform for me as I work towards being a qualified solicitor. It has provided me with first-hand experience of family law and how the legal system operates. Working in a role where I can make a positive difference to people who really need support is important to me and, here at the DA Alliance, I have that opportunity every day. Even simply informing someone about the legal options that are available can provide them with an element of hope during a difficult time.

“The biggest challenge can be supporting clients to proceed with orders. Often, where a relationship or marriage is long-standing, the abuse has, sadly, become the norm. This can lead some clients to blame themselves for the abusive behaviour and they may feel like they owe it to their perpetrator not to report them. The way I try to overcome this is by reassuring clients that the abuse is not their fault and that there is a way out.

“Working for the DA Alliance has really opened my eyes to the prevalence of domestic abuse, and the lack of awareness about it and where to get help. Many of the people referred to our service are completely unaware of the legal options available to them when we first make contact. I also think more support should be provided once an emergency order is reaching the end of its time period, to ensure victims don’t return to their perpetrator.

“When you’re working in a challenging role like this, you have to remember that what you are doing has such an important purpose; for some people our call really is a lifeline.”