Domestic abuse guide for services offering support to GRT survivors launched
The Traveller Movement has launched a guide that will help services give a better service to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller domestic abuse survivors.
Around 40-45 people, including service providers, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller women and GRT organisation workers, attended the conference and launch of ‘A Good Practice Guide: Improving service provision for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller domestic abuse survivors’, which was held at the Traveller Movement offices in South London.
The conference offered an open, passionate and safe space to share experiences, fuelled by a furious indignation that services seemed at worst non-existence and inadequate and patchy at best.
The conference agreed that with the domestic abuse survivors service that does exist, there is often no regard for the culture of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller women who find themselves in this situation. Women who do make it to a refuge sometimes have no concept of bank accounts, rent, budgeting and digital skills which makes ‘going it alone’ an even more difficult proposition. The general consensus of the conference was that, “we need to go to them and not expect them to engage with us”.
A worker for the GRT-led charity GATE Herts said that she would often take five or six calls from the same woman before they even give her a first name. But that once people know the case worker is from their community, they open up more readily because they ‘know we get it’.
The conference also agreed that women who are domestic abuse survivors and women from GRT communities need to be employed in high positions in services to help them engage better with the communities. Concerns where also raised about the DASH reporting mechanism (Domestic Abuse, Stalking, Harassment and Honour based violence Assessment Tool) that police and other agencies, such as schools, support services and councils, use when they come across potential domestic abuse in their work. It was seen to be discriminatory and the conference was concerned that it could prevent GRT women from accessing domestic abuse survivor services because of fears that their children might be taken away.
The conference then ended and details were exchanged and promises were made to communicate further and keep the pressure on service providers and the government to amend policy and make services more relevant.