Preventing VAWDASV doesn’t happen overnight. Here is how we made progress in 2022-23:
- We challenged harmful norms and shaping public conversations about VAWDASV.
- We changed how communities and professionals respond to survivors and perpetrators.
- We championed trauma-informed specialist support for children and young people.
Shaping public conversations
Our powerful social media campaigns continue to be a vital tool for us to challenge the narrative and raise awareness of issues surrounding VAWDASV. These connect us globally, amplify our voices and help us mobilise.
This year we have taken the lead in several campaigns to drive conversations and advocate for survivors. These have included our popular ‘Maybe she’s just not that into you’ campaign focusing on public sexual harassment, our WAVE partnered ‘16 Days of Activism’ campaign to shine a spotlight on the global issue of gendered violence and ‘The Big Give Christmas Challenge’, which finished off our 16 Days of Activism campaign.
We never underestimate the importance of reaching as many people as possible, in the power that is created through sharing personal stories and building communities. This is why in 2022/23, we continued to reach out further and further, with high online engagement on our social media across 3 major platforms including:
- 12% increase in Facebook likes.
- 8% increase in Instagram followers.
- 4% increase in X (Twitter) followers.
On top of this, we launched our new website in September 2022, plus multiple new microsites for survivors, training, members and more.
Throughout this year, we have sustained our feminist interview Instagram Live series, shedding light on a number of different areas. Some highlights have been:
- Ruth Dodsworth and Sophie Weeks. Responsible Journalism.
- Dr Fiona Vera-Grey and Sara Kirkpatrick. Women’s Safety: Who’s responsibility is it?
- Chloe Cross and Rose Baxter-Jones: What is the Big Give Christmas Challenge
- Wanjiku Mbugua-Ngotho (BAWSO) and Sara Kirkpatrick. No Recourse to Public Funds
In 2022/23 we produced multiple easy to interpret and accessible infographics for our ‘Let’s Talk About…’ series. This is where we clarify VAWDASV terminology and debunk misconceptions, as well as discussing topics that people may not know enough about. These were on:
- The Myriad Project
- Mental Health and Violence against Women and Girls
- The local elections
- Women’s rights in Qatar
- WWA Survivors Network
- Coercive control
- Perfect victim myth
Changing the response to VAWDASV
Following on from our development of the Change That Lasts model last year, a model that aims to foster stronger relationships between survivors, communities, professionals and specialist services we have made it our priority to build a dedicated CTL team within WWA. One of the core tenants of CTL is our focus on raising community awareness, which we achieve through our Ask Me project, where we aim to train a community of ‘Ask Me’ members who can signpost survivors and challenge any harmful myths about VAWDASV.
In 2022/23 we trained 100 Ask Me community members from across Wales, we signposted 233 survivors, spoke to 1,006 community members and reached 7,437 people on social media during this year, as well as organised 9 events within the Ask Me community.
We want to ensure that all voices are heard and that every perspective is valued and respected, which is why equality and inclusivity is at the heart of everything we do. At the beginning of this year, we published our Inclusivity and Ask Me consultation report. This arose from work we did last year, where we recruited 3 community engagement officers to engage with Trans, Deaf and BME communities. This was to ensure that Ask Me is relevant to the lived experience of these communities. Our report highlighted the ways that our Ask Me training could become more inclusive of those experiences, while identifying barriers to participation in the Ask Me scheme. It concluded with five main action points:
- Ensure that Ask Me training materials include the experiences of Deaf, BME, and Trans survivors.
- Ensure that Deaf, BME, and Trans communities can take part in the Ask Me scheme.
- Develop trusting relationships with marginalized communities.
- Promote understanding and awareness of diverse survivor needs within WWA and with others.
- Ensure that research is community-led.
Our Change That Lasts model recognizes that the early identification of perpetrators is key to preventing abuse. This year, we have been working in partnership with Respect to develop CLEAR (Change That Lasts Early Awareness Raising), a program for men who are concerned about their attitudes and actions towards women. CLEAR has been designed to address a gap in provision for men who have previously had little to no interventions regarding their conduct, who may recognize that there is ‘a problem’ within their intimate relationships but are not yet disclosing or taking responsibility. It aims to support and motivate men to identify their abusive behaviour and engage with a behaviour change intervention, as well as signposting to any appropriate other support channels, such as relating to mental health, substance misuse or financial support. 47 referrals were accepted for this program, with 29 men having completed the awareness raising course so far this year.
The way professionals respond to situations of abuse can make the crucial difference to survivors. Our Trusted Professionals course can equip individuals in places where disclosures are common, such as in healthcare, social services or frontline specialist services, with the knowledge to identify and respond to these situations in a safe and empathetic manner. This year, we ran 15 Trusted Professional events, with over 115 delegates attending from both public and third sectors from across the South Wales area. Over 90 professionals provided feedback for us:
- 100% said that they know how to respond to a survivor.
- 93% felt that they could recognise when someone is experiencing abuse.
- 99% said that they knew where to refer a potential survivor to.
- 95% said that they would know how to respond to a perpetrator.
Improving support for young people
Children and young people deserve services that are tailored to their experiences of VAWDASV, as we recognise the unique challenges they might face and the different ways it might impact upon them. In 2022/23, we interviewed CYP workers to understand the gaps in provision and services for younger people in Wales. This culminated in the publication of our ‘Forgotten Youth: Gaps in Service Provision for Children and Young People’ report, which highlighted how children and young people who may require specialist domestic abuse services often face unprecedented barriers that inhibit their access to it. This report detailed how there is currently a postcode lottery for service provision, despite the growing need, as well as the reality that policy has frequently failed to recognise children who witness domestic abuse as survivors. Recommendations were put forward to enhance the Change That Lasts model concerning younger individuals, such as incorporating more ad hoc workshops within educational settings and providing further training amongst professionals who work closely with CYP.
Expanding on these discoveries, this year we have made it our priority to further include children and young people in the work that we do. We have launched a project to continue to explore the role of children affected by domestic abuse, as well as extended our Ask Me program with a new role within WWA aimed at co-ordinating Ask Me in relation to young people.
Community action is essential to preventing VAWDASV. Our Bystander Intervention Initiative equips individuals with the skills to identify potential problematic situations and take action safely. This means that learners feel empowered to assume responsibility and intervene proactively to stop violence and abuse. This year we delivered to over 110 university staff and students across Wales, as well as developing our Train the Trainer course to promote the dissemination of these skills.