Specialist Domestic Abuse Online Chat For Survivor

by Michelle Blunsom MBE in Redhill, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 22nd July 2020 we successfully raised £1,537 ( + est. £217.50 Gift Aid ) with 26 supporters in 41 days

To provide survivors of DA with a vital online lifeline through which to access life saving support, safety advice, and risk assessment

by Michelle Blunsom MBE in Redhill, England, United Kingdom

Before I tell you about our vision

I want to tell you a story about a family I have recently been working with.  The mum, let’s call her Kate was referred to our service following an emergency move into the borough. Before meeting me, Kate and her children had all been happily living in their home, mum working part time, the children in school and college no longer frightened of seeing their mum bruised or dragged across the lounge floor by her hair.    

This changed following a phone call informing Kate that her ex-partner, the children’s father had been released from prison and due to information received, police and children services advised the family they were at risk of serious harm and it was recommended the family move immediately out of the area.

Kate and all her children were moved into a 2 bed emergency flat, their possessions from home packed by a removal firm and placed into storage.   The cost for the removal firm and storage for a number of months way exceeded Kate’s monthly income.  After a few months Kate got notification of a temporary home in our borough.  This was when I got to speak with Kate: she was really pleased with the accommodation, even though it meant three of the children would have to share a room and mum would have to sleep in the lounge: it was bigger and they would be safe.  She was very grateful for the help and support, and the safety measures that could be put in place when she moved in.  As we talked more I could tell there was something really worrying Kate: what Kate and the children needed at that exact moment was money to pay for another removal van, for petrol to get her children to school.  Over the last 2 months those journeys had been 3 hour round trips twice a day. Without some money they would be unable to move into the new home.  I could hear the stress in Kate’s  voice: the children having endured so much before their dad went to prison,  had been pulled away from their home and their friends and Kate felt so guilty about this, questioning whether she had made the right decision

What happened next?

It was only because of donations that our service was there to help Kate and her children and I was able to tell Kate that she didn’t need to worry about finding the money for the removal van.  ESDAS would cover it and they could move to their place of safety.

What do we need funding for?

At ESDAS we believe not only in everyone's right to live free from violence and abuse but also that kindness is fundamental to meeting the needs of survivors and children. For survivors and children, living with domestic abuse is traumatic and can have often devastating life consequences. However the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded and indeed worsened the conditions under which survivors and children are living. We know that the government’s advice on self or household-isolation has had a direct impact on women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Home is not a safe place for survivors of domestic abuse. We know that social distancing and self-isolation will be used as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour by perpetrators, and will shut down routes to safety and support. We know from speaking to some survivors, that accessing support online can be a safer or preferred option than calling for support if they are not able to leave the household, as the perpetrator could overhear them on the phone, which is why we are fundraising to try and establish an online chat service. Since lockdown we have an increasing number of survivors contact us secretly via social media and email and we know that we need to expand our lifesaving services into an online platform. We are acutely aware not only of the increase risk that abuse is happening behind closed doors and going unreported but also that the lives of women and children are at greater risk than ever. In fact in the UK there have been 32 domestic abuse killings in the first eight weeks of lockdown. But even the easing of restrictions doesn’t mean that domestic abuse will reduce. Far from it: in fact, domestic abuse is anticipated to rise further as lockdown lifts and victims make their escape, leaving the abuser reeling from their loss of control. At this point the abuse and violence ramps up.

So we need you to help us be there in anyway we can, to reach survivors where they are and provide a variety of routes to safety for them and their children.

And finally we would like to share with your one survivor's words on why our services are needed..

"I feel so weird, it’s so unexplainable the way I feel.
The police was instrumental, one in particular Detective. But for you and your team you helped me start this journey in the first place, you stood by me. It may not seem like you did much from afar, but you supported me and believed me. You allowed me to utilise your address for my sons and my sake and that was everything, it made me feel so much safer. That really was massive for me in providing cover and courage to proceed, you touched base with me to see how I was. When your alone that’s truly a feeling of feeling special, worthy. And just plain nice, coming out of this experience having people being nice for just nice sake is so strange yet so important in getting back to who you are and who you want to be, being surrounded by surreal events for so long it’s easy to turn into what you've seen as it’s slowly become the only existence despite the constant battle to keep your sanity and version of it, it’s so much easier to be what you see.
Having a constant positive interaction makes you feel you matter and what you feel matters.
????Thank you. ????
To you and your staff past and present, seriously a massive thank you.
I’m going to go and be overwhelmed by passing this milestone in ploughing forward. I think I’m excited but scared to be. Either way. Thank you.

 Thank you so much??"

(Survivor, April 2020)

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