Don’t punish parent victims for domestic abuse, says Waltham Forest

The pioneering programme argues children are safer with their non-violent parent
By Victoria Munro

Some victims stay silent for fear their children will be taken away (credit: Pixabay)
Some victims stay silent for fear their children will be taken away (credit: Pixabay)

Waltham Forest’s refusal to blame domestic abuse victims with kids for their partner’s violence is spreading to other areas, thanks to new funding. 

The “Safe & Together” project was given more than £500,000 of government funding after proving children are better off staying with their non-violent parents.

Previously, the fear of losing their children into care was thought to have “compelled” some victims “to stay quiet” about the abuse they experienced.

Thanks to money from the Home Office’s Domestic Abuse Perpetrator fund, the pioneering programme will now be introduced in three new councils. 

Waltham Forest Council’s cabinet member for community safety, Ahsan Khan, said the council was pleased the government “recognised the value” of the landmark initiative.

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He said: “It is hard to believe that, even now, survivors of domestic violence are still held accountable for the actions of a violent partner.

“This long held attitude has meant that those in abusive relationships have felt compelled to stay quiet, fearing their children may be removed from the home. That’s clearly wrong.

“We need to stop asking why a person who is being abused doesn’t leave and start asking why the offender doesn’t stop.

“Slowly, things are moving in the right direction and I’m proud that Waltham Forest is at the forefront of these changes.”

The success of the programme is believed to have longer-term implications for wider crime – as domestic violence is often linked to street violence.

Studies have shown that more than half of young people in youth offending services have been witness to or victim of domestic abuse within their family homes.

It is estimated that, throughout the course of the programme, as many as 1,000 perpetrators will be offered interventions and 2,500 survivors and their children will receive support.

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