Welsh Women’s Aid has for many years been calling for public services, including the police, to address perpetrator behaviour as a route to protecting victims, but this must be done in a way that ensures the needs and safety of women and children are paramount. Most importantly, it is critical that perpetrator work is funded in addition to – and not at the expense of – specialist independent services like refuges and women’s safety services in local areas.
Welsh Women’s Aid sits on the expert advisory group for the Drive Project, and we welcome initiatives that seek to intervene and disrupt perpetrators’ abusive and often criminal behaviour. Indeed, this is something we feel public services should already be doing in their work to prevent abuse. That agencies have consistently failed to place the onus on perpetrators for preventing domestic abuse over several years, suggests a failure of systems designed to protect victims.
In Wales, whilst we have national legislation that requires all public authorities to prevent domestic and sexual abuse, we also know that in many local areas, refuges and specialist support services for women and children still don’t know what funding they have to continue from April. These lifesaving specialist services for women and children are needed now more than ever, because even when public services get involved, perpetrators continue to harm and pose a risk to victims who are isolated, controlled and live in fear of their abuser.
Domestic abuse is a significant problem in Wales that costs the taxpayer over £303 million annually. It’s surely now time for sufficient resources to be invested in specialist services that protect and support all survivors of abuse and contribute to preventing domestic abuse from starting in the first place, at the same time as stopping violent men from continuing to abuse with impunity.
Across Wales, anyone who needs help because of domestic abuse or sexual violence should contact the Live Fear Free Helpline, in confidence day or night, on 0808 80 10 800.