“Since 2011 Leeds Domestic Violence Service (LDVS) has been providing support to people experiencing domestic violence and abuse. Between us, the three organisations that provide the service in Leeds (Leeds Women’s Aid, Halt and Behind Closed Doors) have been talking about it for over 70 years.”
“We are comfortable talking about it, sometimes too comfortable – it’s what we do every day” says Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive, Leeds Women’s Aid
“We have learned lots of things: Firstly, when someone tells you they are experiencing abuse, it SHOULD make you feel uncomfortable. That’s because it’s a horrible thing they are going through, and when someone tells you it’s happening to them, it becomes a real thing, not the experience of someone on TV or in a book.”
“Secondly, you have been chosen, someone trusts you enough to tell you about that horrible thing, the thing that causes them to live in fear and shame.”
“So, what do you do?”
“Gloss over it? Change the subject? It’s so incredible it can’t be true!
Please don’t do any of those things, Please believe what you are being told, have that difficult conversation and tell that person you believe them and are there for them.
Last year we took over 4,000 calls to the Leeds Domestic Violence Helpline. The women who call (it is mostly women) tell us that being believed is so important. Their abusers often convince them that no one will listen if they talk about the abuse, that people will think they are crazy, that they won’t be able to cope, even that their children will be taken away.
If someone tells you about their abuse, you don’t have to have all the answers. Tell them to give us a call, or even call us yourself. The Leeds helpline is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year 0113 2460401.
We can have that more detailed conversation, provide support, give information about options and offer longer term support.
LDVS provide outreach support on a one-to-one basis, Independent Domestic Violence Advisers to support clients through the criminal justice process, Resettlement Support to women coming out of refuges, drop-ins at health settings across the city and groups for women to share their experiences. Between us, the three organisations can also offer or find emergency accommodation, provide peer support and healthy relationship programmes.
There is lots of support out there. Getting it to survivors of domestic violence and abuse when they need it relies on all of us being comfortable talking about it.”
You can get more information here