Ethnic Minority Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA)

Ethnic Minority Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) - Cambridgeshire and Peterborough IDVA Service

Ethnic Minority Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) provide support to individuals from a Black, Asian or other minority community who are experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse from a family member. As specialist IDVAs, they assess the risk of a client and deliver a service that is appropriate to that risk, working with multiple agencies to keep victims and survivors are safe. Ethnic Minority IDVAs can provide support in cases of forced marriage, honour-based violence and complex immigration circumstances. Ethnic Minority IDVAs receive referrals third party services including GPs and housing associations. Clients do not need to report their experiences to police to qualify for help.

We talk to Uma* who works as an Ethnic Minority IDVA serving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

How long have you been in the role?

Since January 2022.

What was your (professional/voluntary) background before taking on this job?

I was working as an IDVA, managing a team, for a private organisation in India for five years. I completed a Master’s Degree in Social Work and a Degree in Sociology in India.

What sort of support do you offer?

“At the basic level, we explain what domestic violence is and the impact this has on the client and their family. Clients don’t always recognise they are victims. In 90 per cent of these cases, the client does not realise the abuse was happening over a long period of time through controlling behaviour. In cases of sexual abuse/marital rape, many feel it is the husband’s right over them and that they need to comply with the husband’s wishes. Our support will include explaining certain legislation and their rights in this country, advocating on their behalf to different agencies and supporting them to attend appointments/interviews. If they require any protective measures or injunctions/court orders, I help them to apply, sometimes liaising with solicitors if they don’t have an interpreter. I explain the court process as they don’t always understand and also discuss safety planning with the client.

Can you think of a victim/witness that you recently supported and describe what you think helped them recover/report/seek support?

“I supported a well-educated client who had been raped by her husband and was a victim of coercive and controlling behaviour and financial abuse. She was on the verge of disengaging with me because she felt so overwhelmed. Through patient support, we worked on ensuring she felt in control of her situation. I liaised with a solicitor on behalf of the client to access information regarding her immigration status. In the end, she not only left her husband, she also reported the abuse to the police. She attended a family court hearing on her own and successfully secured full custody of her child. She is now working and is financially independent. We provided the support and patience she needed to help her achieve that. It’s very rewarding, you’re changing lives.”

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