Is Anyone Listening? Accountability and Women Survivors of Domestic Violence

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

Chapter 9

Further innovatory practice

Women's Aid and women's advocacy organisations and campaigns

In this chapter, we move on from considering domestic violence survivors' forums to discuss survivor representation through Women's Aid and refuge groups and through the local, national and international campaigning, advocacy and lobbying of women's organisations. In the UK, Women's Aid and other women's advocacy and support groups work closely with women who have experienced domestic violence and with their children, and have always had policies of raising their voices, as discussed throughout this book. In terms of both basic consultation and broader participation strategies, there are ways in which the work of women's organisations and self-activity is particularly pertinent, especially in terms of sharing power between women who are survivors and those who are not.

Women's Aid and other women's projects employ many domestic violence survivors and ex-service users as volunteers, workers and managers (as explored in Part 2 and further discussed in Chapter 10). Where ex-service users participate in agencies directly as employees or within management structures, they are likely to have at least some power in the operation of that agency and may also be able to take a policy-making role. In some senses, then, this can be the most developed type of survivor involvement. Within refuges and outreach projects, women using the service may also take a role in the day-to-day running of the project and in publicity, training and education work, as discussed in Chapter 5, and may be able to impact on, or exert some control over, this work.

In terms of influencing wider domestic violence policy-making and the role of statutory and voluntary agencies, Women's Aid and other women's projects play a key advocacy role representing abused women's views. They also conduct campaigning work in which abused women themselves play a crucial role. Further, on a local level, women's organisations are engaged in other ways of getting women's voices heard, for example, within inter-agency forums and partnership groupings. In this area of work, consultation with service users (through refuge organisations) remains the most common method, as for other forms of user involvement, even though, as we have emphasised throughout this book, it is also the most limited.

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