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Domestic violence and abuse often have a devastating effect on mental health, not only for the victims, but also for their children.

The links between DVA and mental health deep rooted and far reaching. Our flagship intervention, IRIS, trains healthcare professionals to recognize the signs of DVA, and ask the question to patients who may have come to see them about matters including low mood, depression and anxiety. More often than not, these issues hide a far bigger problem. 

To mark Mental Health Awareness week, we asked Mel Goodway, National Implementation Manager for the IRIS project, about her experience of DVA and mental health, and the importance or recognising gender- based violence as a health care issue. 

Mel Goodway – National Implementatin Manager, IRISi.

“During my time as a front line DVA support worker I rarely worked with women who were not experiencing a mental health impact as a result of their situation. In fact, I struggle to recollect a single case. Women would frequently use the term “mental torture” to describe the abuse they were experiencing or had experienced. Many women reported anxiety and depression, and unsurprisingly given their daily circumstances. We know that mental health consequences are by far the most common and longstanding health impact on women who experience DVA, with abused women being 7 times more likely to experience PTSD.”

“Recovery from an abusive relationship is not immediate. The emotional and psychological impacts span for months, even years after the abuse has ended. Women report feeling a loss of self-confidence, self-worth, the ability to become independent again and build new relationships, just to name a few. Many of the women I supported referred to ‘emotional scars’ and most women who reported both physical and emotional abuse felt the impacts of behaviours like coercive control lasted with them for much longer and were harder to recover from.”

“It is almost impossible to understand how anyone would not recognise domestic abuse as a mental health issue when we reflect on the repeat physical and emotional trauma that victims go through. Imagine living in an environment where you are afraid of every action you make for fear of physical violence and/or a barrage of verbal battery. Where you are continually living on edge and constantly adapting your behaviour so there are no repercussions. This is what it is like for many women living with domestic abuse and we cannot ignore the impact this kind of environment will have on a persons emotional and mental well-being.”

“At present 3 women a week in the UK will commit suicide as a result of experiencing domestic abuse.”

Mel Goodway

“This figure does not include the amount of attempted suicides per week. Additionally, we know women are likely to use other harmful methods to cope with their poor mental health such as self-harm or substance misuse. These figures are significantly increased in abused women compared to non-abused women.”

“A report collating the data from all our IRIS sites nationally shows that across 2018-19 63% of service users reported experiencing mental ill health, generally experiencing depression and/or anxiety. Several service users reporting self-harm and some reported suicidal thoughts. This number was far higher than those who reported a physical health issue, disability or problems with alcohol or drugs.”

“DVA and mental health are intrinsically linked. As such, we at IRISi, are passionate about ensuring there is not only a health care response to gendered based violence, but one that this is appropriate and safe with a direct route to support.”

To find out more about what we do and how you might be able to get IRIS in your area, please visit our website www.irisi.org or email info@irisi.org

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The IRIS Programme provides specialist advocacy and support to patients registered at IRIS-trained practices who have experienced domestic abuse.

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Partners

AVA
AVA
AVA

AVA is an expert, groundbreaking and independent charity working across the UK.

Their vision is a world without gender based violence and abuse. They aim to  inspire innovation and collaboration and encourage and enable direct service providers to help end gender based violence and abuse particularly against women and girls.AVA’s work is focused around those areas where they can make the best contribution to ending violence and abuse. They do this by making sure that survivors get the help and support they need in the here and now, through providing innovative training that has a proven direct impact on the professional practice of people supporting survivors of violence and abuse

developing a range of toolkits, e-learning and other material that supports professionals to provide effective and appropriate support to survivors of violence and abuse

using our influence and networks to ensure survivors voices are heard. We work closely with AVA in many areas including the Pathfinder project

https://avaproject.org.uk

SafeLives
SafeLives
SafeLives

SafeLives are a national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for good. We combine insight from services, survivors and statistics to support people to become safe, well and rebuild their lives. Since 2005, SafeLives has worked with organisations across the country to transform the response to domestic abuse, with over 60,000 victims at highest risk of murder or serious harm now receiving co-ordinated support annually. SafeLives are members of the Pathfinder consortium.

http://www.safelives.org.uk/about-us

IMKAAN
IMKAAN
IMKAAN

Imkaan is a UK-based, Black feminist organisation. We are the only national second-tier women’s organisation dedicated to addressing violence against Black and minoritised women and girls i.e. women and girls which are defined in policy terms as Black and ‘Minority Ethnic’ (BME). The organisation holds nearly two decades of experience of working around issues such as domestic violence, forced marriage and ‘honour-based’ violence.

They work at local, national and international level, and in partnership with a range of organisations, to improve policy and practice responses to Black and minoritised women and girls. Imkaan works with it’s members to represent the expertise and perspectives of frontline, specialist and dedicated Black and minoritised women’s organisations that work to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. Imkaan delivers a unique package of support which includes: quality assurance; accredited training and peer education; sustainability support to frontline Black and minoritised organisations; and facilitation of space for community engagement and development. They are a part of the Pathfinder Consortium.

https://www.imkaan.org.uk

The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC
The University of Bristol CAPC

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research.  It is part of Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

A dedicated team of researchers at the Centre work on domestic abuse projects and IRISi is a co-collaborator and partner on some of these projects including ReProvide, HERA and DRiDVA.

The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation
The Health Foundation

The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK. The Health Foundation’s Exploring Social Franchising programme aims to generate a deeper understanding of the potential of social franchising models for scaling effective health and social care interventions within the NHS.

We are one of four project teams participating in the programme to develop a social franchise to enable the sustainable spread of our intervention, the IRIS Programme. We receive funding and support from the Health Foundation, including technical expertise on social franchising, and attend programme learning events. The Health Foundation has also commissioned a programme-wide evaluation to support understanding of the use of social franchising in the UK health and care system. We and our franchisees will support the evaluation through co-designing data collection requirements, providing access to data as requested, hosting site visits and attending learning events.

https://www.health.org.uk

STADV
STADV
STADV

Standing Together Against Domestic Violence is a UK charity bringing communities together to end domestic abuse. They bring local services together to keep people safe

Most public services weren’t designed with domestic abuse in mind, and they often struggle to keep people safe. Poor communication and gaps between services put survivors at risk.

STADV aim to end domestic abuse by changing the way that local services respond to it. They do this through an approach that they pioneered, called the Coordinated Community Response. The Coordinated Community Response brings services together to ensure local systems truly keep survivors safe, hold abusers to account, and prevent domestic abuse.

Their model of a coordinated local partnership to tackle and ultimately prevent domestic violence is now widely accepted as best practice. They are also a part of the Pathfinder consortium.

http://www.standingtogether.org.uk

Spring Impact
Spring Impact
Spring Impact

Spring Impact is a not-for-profit social enterprise born out of the frustration of seeing social organisations constantly reinventing the wheel and wasting scarce resources. Spring Impact uses a combination of tested commercial and social principles and extensive practical expertise to support organisations to identify, design and implement the right social replication model to scale their social impact.

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