Is Anyone Listening? Accountability and Women Survivors of Domestic Violence

By Gill Hague; Rosemary Aris et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

How much do agencies listen to domestic violence survivors?

This chapter discusses the extent of agency commitment to domestic violence survivor consultation and participation, and considers how much the views of women experiencing violence are heard - and, more importantly, listened to - by professionals. We begin by discussing why user involvement needs to be integral to policy-making and service provision, and then look at how much agencies, including statutory services and inter-agency forums, involve domestic violence survivors at the moment, leading on to a consideration of women's movement projects and survivor participation. We conclude by looking at the way that workers in all sectors often view abused women as unworthy participants while they are still 'in the experience'.

In investigating these issues and in looking at empowerment and the raising of the voices of abused women, we can learn, as discussed briefly in Chapters 2 and 3, from the sometimes inspiring contributions of other service user movements which have self-organised over recent years to challenge poor or discriminatory services. Thus, a key tool - both in effectively listening to, and in theorising from the views of service users - is the body of literature on service user involvement more generally. As we have discussed, the movements concerned have campaigned for better services and have also produced guidance on how to conduct consultation effectively (see, for example, Lindow, 1994; Department of Health, 1996a). The disability movement and the movement of psychiatric service survivors have been particularly active in this regard, and have also theorised responses to social issues from the perspectives of those involved (for disabled people, see Swain et al., 1993; Campbell and Oliver, 1996; Priestley, 1999; for psychiatric service survivors, see Barker and Peck, 1987; Chamberlin, 1988; Brandon, 1991; Sayce, 1999).


Why should user involvement be integrated into service development?

As we argued in theoretical terms in Part 1, the contributions of these user movements and the increased recent attention to the views and needs of

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