Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and Stalking Advocate

Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) and Stalking Advocate

IDVAs who specialise in stalking advocacy provide independent support, information and advice to adults who have experienced stalking by anyone eg ex-partner, family member, colleague or a stranger.

Stalking is defined as a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim.

The focus of the IDVA and Stalking Advocate’s work is to safeguard and empower victims, increase their feelings of safety, health and wellbeing and work together to reduce the risks posed by perpetrators. They ensure the voice of the victim is heard and provide practical and emotional support throughout the victim’s journey to help them move on with their daily life.

We talk to Amelie* who works as an IDVA Stalking Advocate serving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

How long have you been in the role?

Five years.

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

I trained and worked as a Social Worker prior to taking on this role and worked for the Local Authority for 20 years including education safeguarding.

I’ve also worked in a voluntary capacity for Victim Support and Women’s Aid.

What sort of support do you offer?

I offer stalking advocacy support to adults who have experienced stalking by anyone known or unknown. I work as part of the IDVA service and the multi-agency Cambridgeshire Stalking Intervention Project. This team brings together a police officer, a consultant psychologist and my role, we have all had specialist training with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, in Screening Assessment for Stalking and Harassment and Stalking Risk Profile. A second specialist IDVA will be joining the project. We work closely together with probation and other partner agency colleagues throughout the criminal justice process to support and safeguard victims, reduce and manage the risks and harm posed by the perpetrator.

Initially, I contact victims to explain my role and undertake a risk assessment looking at the motivation of the stalking behaviours and the potential risks of further harm. I provide emotional and practical support, advise on safety planning and can refer them for target hardening services to increase the security of their property. I will discuss and help clients understand their rights and provide information about their options including sanctions available through the civil courts or criminal justice system. I liaise and advocate on the victim’s behalf with police and partner agencies to help ensure their experience, concerns, risks and effects are taken seriously. Stalking causes significant emotional and psychological distress and fear of violence. Part of my job involves signposting clients to agencies which can deliver mental health support.

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

A client I supported was being stalked by a stranger who lived in her community. I made contact with the client, visited her at home and provided her with emotional support, information and advice including safety planning and personal safety tips. As part of that support, I also advised her how to report future incidents and effects, liaised with colleagues in the Cambridgeshire Stalking Intervention Project, advocating on her behalf about her experience. A Stalking Protection Order was made which the perpetrator breached and he was subsequently charged. The perpetrator pleaded guilty at court and received a suspended jail sentence with conditions to engage with the Probation Service and undertake psychological assessment. The victim feels safer and gave positive feedback showing her appreciation of the support and the confidence it had given her to report issues.

*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.

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