Report shows domestic violence victims could be helped quicker

By Lenore Rice

A new report suggests that victims of domestic abuse on average suffer at the hands of their aggressor for 2.7 years before they receive effective help.

The research from domestic abuse charity SafeLives also reveals that some victims will have suffered over 50 incidents of abuse in the time it takes for them to be helped out of their situation. The study is based on records of over 35,000 domestic abuse victims going back to 2009.

The study concludes that victims could be helped much quicker, with 85 per cent having had contact with an average of 5 professionals in the year before they received "effective" help to get out of their abusive relationship. The chief executive of SafeLives, Diana Barran, said that "every conversation with a professional represents a missed opportunity to get victims and their children the help they need."

The figures also showed that almost 1 in 4 of victims categorised as 'high-risk' had been to an A&E department to get treatment for domestic violence injuries, with some going to hospital on as many as 15 separate occasions.

Under-reporting of domestic violence as been long considered a huge barrier to effectively tackling the issue, and rather worryingly, this study suggests that those that do try to raise the alarm may have to do so repeatedly in order to get the help they need.

Frances Wedgwood, a GP who trains health workers on domestic abuse, says "we need to get better at asking people directly if they need help." Vera Baird, the police and crime commissioner for Northumberland also called for improved training of professionals to help spot and deal with domestic violence.

If you need to speak to a solicitor in Northern Ireland specialising in domestic violence issues, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 1363.

Our team can assist you with emergency Court Orders such as Non-molestation and Occupation Orders. We can also advise you on whether you will qualify for legal aid.