A Lancashire charity is combating domestic abuse by offering a safe haven to the victims.
SafeNet is a charity that aims to give a happier and healthier future to the sufferers of domestic abuse.
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), an estimated 7.9% of women (1.3 million) and 4.2% of men (695,000) experienced domestic abuse in 2018.
SafeNet offers a range of services to support domestic abuse victims in various ways like safe emergency accommodation or emotional wellbeing support.
One of the support services they offer is Lancashire Refuges, which is available to anyone in a relationship that feels unsafe, unhappy or unhealthy.
Lancashire Refuges helps by providing and supporting with:
In 2017, SafeNet opened Jane’s Place, a recovery refuge which is the first of its kind in the north.
I spoke to Harriet Stevenson, the Communications Lead for SafeNet, who told me about how Jane’s Place is important for catering to the support needs of those which are more complex.
She said, “It’s people with complex needs, whether that’s mental health or drug and alcohol,
“Those people wouldn’t go into a mainstream refuge because their needs would be too high, so we purpose-built a refuge for that.”
Jane’s Place was named after Jane Clough who was brutally murdered by her ex-partner in 2010.
SafeNet is also aiming to promote discussion and awareness towards domestic abuse, they are hosting a conference in Preston.
The “Men Speak Out Against Violence towards Women and Girls” event will be focused on how men working together with women can reduce domestic violence.
This event will also focus on how companies can be active in addressing domestic abuse and make a change in the workplace to recognise the signs of abuse.
Harriet spoke about the regulations that can be put into the workplace to support domestic abuse sufferers.
She said, “We are looking for professionals to come, whether that’s within HR or construction sites or just in general,
“We want to promote having the awareness that it could be happening to colleagues and how you can signpost and what can be put in place to help those people.”
Harriet stressed how awareness is important because domestic abuse is sometimes not recognised if not spoken about and can be mistaken for another issue.
She said, “It might go under the radar in workplaces, sickness and high absence and things like that,
“We want to show what the signs are and how people can help.”
The event will have key speakers who will be discussing the issues of domestic abuse and sharing stories on how it has affected them.
Luke and Ryan Hart will be sharing their personal story of the coercive and controlling behaviour of their father, Lance Hart.
On 19th July 2016, Lance murdered Luke and Ryan’s mother, Claire, and 19-year-old sister, Charlotte.
This came only five days after Luke and Ryan had broken Claire and Charlotte out of the family home in an attempt to get them safely away from their father.
Luke and Ryan will be sharing how domestic abuse is not necessarily physical abuse and how they didn’t recognise their father’s actions as domestic abuse and that “didn’t recognise that he was dangerous”,
They told The Guardian, “We thought, ‘Well, he’s not drunk and beating us every weekend, we’re not failing at school, we don’t have behavioural problems.’ Those were the signs I was looking for,”
Helen Gauder, Managing Director at SafeNet Domestic Abuse and Support Services, has spoken about the event on the SafeNet website and what they hope to achieve.
She said, “We are offering a platform for men who are actively working to raise awareness and who wish to engage more men in the conversation,
“inviting them to participate and to encourage others to say no to male violence against women”.
One of the initiatives SafeNet is promoting is paid leave from work for domestic abuse victims to allow them time to get support.
Harriet said, “If they are experiencing any form of domestic abuse, they have ten days paid leave to get the support they need,
“Whether that’s legal advice, time to leave their properties or sort out what to do with their children.”
Although there is a focus on recognising domestic abuse in the workplace, Harriet reassured that anyone is welcome to come along.
She said, “If it’s something that people are interested in learning more about, you don’t have to be affiliated with any kind of organisation,
“Come and find out a bit more about the work that we do and what we can help with.”
The Men Speak Out Against Violence towards Women and Girls conference by SafeNet will be at the Preston Marriot Hotel on Garstang Road, Broughton on Tuesday 10th March 2020.