What is Stevenage Against Domestic Abuse
- Credit: Archant
SADA is a dedicated service run by Stevenage Borough Council to help victims of domestic abuse come to terms with it and move on with their lives.
The organisation centres around the Domestic Abuse Forum made up of abuse survivors who get together to share their experiences, support one another and offer help and guidance to others.
Having all lived through harrowing situations themselves, these brave women are being trained up so they can help others and provide guidance for council officers.
A SADA working group delivers the support service and there is a multi-agency panel which links SADA to many partner agencies they need to work with like the police, GPs, children’s centres, homeless organisations and Citizens Advice.
When victims are first identified – usually after being referred by the police, GPs or other agencies – they are given an assessment by the one of the council’s 10-strong anti-social behaviour team.
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As domestic abuse support worker Tania Stokes explains, everyone is different and has different needs. Some will need to be referred to counselling services or Rape Crisis, while others may need help with financial support or help with seeking custody of children. Some victims want to stay in their own home and have security measures installed such as panic buttons so they cannot be harassed, but others prefer to move to a different area or a women’s refuge.
The council has just secured £107,000 funding for a safe flat where women or men in crisis can be housed temporarily until the right support can be put in place.
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The abuse survivors in the forum are already campaigning hard to change the law. They say the legal right of parental responsibility means abusers can stay in touch with children which allows the abuse to continue in some form – even when court action has been taken to restrict access or put restraining orders in place. This means abuse victims often still have to have some contact with their abuser until their children are grown up, and this allows often subtle forms of abuse to continue.
They have started a petition online to try to force the government to debate the issue.
You can find it at www.change.org by searching for ‘parental responsibility’.
At the end of Thursday’s conference, council leader Sharon Taylor said: “Every bit or our work here in Stevenage is groundbreaking.” Looking at everything the SADA is putting in place, it would be difficult not to agree with her.
If you need to talk to Stevenage Against Domestic Abuse, call the council on 01438 242242 or for an out of hours emergency call 01438 314963.
You can also drop in to the council’s customer service centre in Danestrete, next to HSBC bank in the town centre.
For free legal advice regarding domestic abuse, access and parental responsibility, you can call Sandra Foster at Foster’s Legal in Stevenage on 01438 318452.