SafeLives calls for a joined up response to support victims of domestic abuse at the Hidden Harms summit

21st May 2020

SafeLives calls for a joined up response to support victims of domestic abuse at the Hidden Harms summit with Prime Minister, alongside survivors and specialist services.

The virtual summit will be opened today by the Prime Minister and has been set up to drive action to tackle domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery. The summit will also discuss the introduction of a codeword system in supermarkets and pharmacies, to allow victims of abuse to quickly seek help.

SafeLives’ Chief Executive, Suzanne Jacob OBE, will make the case for a long-term sustainable funding settlement for the domestic abuse sector and will call for more Idvas (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors) who provide a vital lifeline to victims and survivors. She will say that their role should be recognised as part of critical national response infrastructure and embedded as standard in hospitals.

SafeLives are proud to be attending the summit alongside a SafeLives Pioneer – an expert by experience – and an Idva who will both be able to share their expertise directly with ministers.

Suzanne Jacob said: ‘In normal times domestic abuse victims and survivors talk about walking on eggshells. During this period of lockdown they have talked about walking on glass[1]. We warmly welcome the chance to speak about this to the Prime Minister and to Ministers with responsibilities for mental health, law enforcement and child safeguarding, and are delighted that a SafeLives Pioneer – an expert by experience – can also have her voice and views heard directly by those who shape UK policy.’

‘We will also be joined by Kim, an Idva who, like frontline professionals across the country, is providing a high level of support to her clients despite working at well over capacity. Another 300 Idvas are desperately needed in England and Wales just to meet the bare minimum requirements[2].’

Natasha, a SafeLives Pioneer, said: ‘I am proud to be able to share with the ministers my experience of how flawed some of the systems and practices are. I do this as a Pioneer for SafeLives to highlight the impact these system failures have on victims going through a multi-agency response at their most vulnerable time, and because I want to support agencies to work better together in the interests of future victims.’

Kim, an Idva, said: ‘I’ll be representing a team of Idvas working across the country to support and get the best outcomes for victims who often feel they have no voice – within systems that often work against them.’


Notes to editors

About SafeLives

We are SafeLives, the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good.

We work with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse. We want what you would want for your best friend. We listen to survivors, putting their voices at the heart of our thinking. We look at the whole picture for each individual and family to get the right help at the right time to make families everywhere safe and well. And we challenge perpetrators to change, asking ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ rather than ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ This principle applies whatever the sex of the victim or perpetrator and whatever the nature of their relationship.

Last year alone, nearly 11,000 professionals working on the frontline received our training. Over 65,000 adults at risk of serious harm or murder and more than 85,000 children received support through dedicated multi-agency support designed by us and delivered with partners. In the last three years, nearly 1,000 perpetrators have been challenged and supported to change by interventions we created with partners, and that's just the start.

Support for domestic abuse during the COVID-19 crisis


[1] This phrase was first used by SafeLives Pioneer Rachel Williams, a fierce campaigner and advocate for victims and survivors

[2] Data from SafeLives Practitioner Survey 2019 https://safelives.org.uk/news-views/practitioner-survey