Victims of domestic abuse now have someone on-hand to support them when in hospital or working within the health service.
Stacey Simpson, a former police officer, has been appointed as the first Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, working with Fylde Coast Women’s Aid.
Stacey, who worked as an immediate response officer in Blackpool for seven years, says she has already offered support to more than 80 people effected by domestic abuse.
The 29-year-old said: “So far, the victims I’ve seen in the hospital ranged in age from 18 to 89, women and men, from a variety of backgrounds.
“During my time with the police, I became aware of how prevalent domestic abuse is and interested in the support available for victims.
“I’m available for patients coming through A&E, maternity, long-stay wards and any other person with cause to visit the hospital. I’m available to staff who’ve lived with or are living with domestic abuse. It’s important to recognise not all abuse will create visible injuries – domestic abuse does not always involve physical violence and often emotional abuse and coercive control can be as devastating.
The Home Office definition of domestic abuse is: “Any controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.”
Latest figures show domestic abuse accounts for 31 per cent of all Blackpool’s violent crime and 10 per cent of all crime. On average, there are approximately 14 domestic abuse incidents reported to police per day in Blackpool – 2.7 times the Lancashire average.
The British Crime survey found four out of five victims don’t tell police. Nine out of 10 reported improvements in safety following intervention by a hospital IDVA. Stacey believes working alongside other agencies can make a huge difference to the lives of people experiencing abuse.
“I listen to the victim, their feelings and wishes and most importantly, I don’t judge. I can assist in arranging civil orders and can support victims in civil court. We can arrange to secure the victim’s property if they need to get locks changed. Sometimes clients don’t want to leave the relationship or aren’t ready to, I discuss safety planning and at least we can let them know help is available.
“As I’m independent, staff can approach me without having to go through their manager and can seek advice in confidence. There are approximately 6,000 members of staff at the trust, so statistically a large number will be personally affected in some way by domestic abuse.
“Clients can find it easier to talk to an IDVA like me instead of the police, as they often do not want the perpetrator to be arrested or for them to get a criminal conviction.”