No two days are the same on the helpline. When the phone rings you can’t predict who you are going to be speaking to. You often deal with people fleeing domestic abuse and it is down to you to try and find a safe place for them. We use a system called Routes to Support where you can do a search of what spaces are available across the country. You can then complete the referral form with the victim and send it directly to the refuge and hope you get the space that was on offer. We may then support with getting to refuge.
One of the best feelings is knowing after you have spoken with a victim that has fled an abusive relationship, that they have been accepted into a refuge and are safe. Once they are at refuge, they can have ongoing emotional support and stability.
We talk to many professionals, including Social workers, Doctors, Housing and police Officers. Although primarily the helpline is for victims, professionals, often have concerns for client or have the client with them. A recent example is of a doctor calling who had just had an appointment with a patient who had disclosed the abuse they are being subjected to. The doctor wanted to refer the patient, but also know what advice to give the victim next time they attend if it was at crisis point. MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) was discussed and helpline numbers for 24-hour support should they be needed.
The next call was from a victim asking about emergency accommodation, but she doesn’t want leave her small dog and decided to stay so I spoke with her about other options, give immediate safety advice and made a referral to one of our community teams
Sometimes, whilst on the helpline, Police may also contact to inform you of recent events or update you with information of a client. There are Domestic Abuse Officers (DAOs) that you may liaise with closely or need to contact if we have concerns about a client.
One of the things workers like about being on the helpline is the unexpected. The range of calls you get are so varied. One moment you could be a listening ear to a victim wanting some emotional support, the next you could be dealing with an emergency where a client is in danger. You need to be prepared to take whatever call comes at you.
A normal day in the office is fast-paced, energetic and engaging. The helpline team work together to ensure calls are taken and the right help is always given. The team is supported by other team members in case of emergencies or some support for the worker is needed. Needless to say, your days fly by when you are on the helpline!
When the phone rings, you could be the first person a victim has spoken to about abuse. They may want to remain anonymous or feel like they don’t know if they have called the right place. This is your opportunity to reassure this person and listen to what they have to say. The first contact is often the hardest step to make so just giving that person time and a place to speak openly is so important. You will find that after you have heard what they need to say and given them advice, they feel much better and often will agree to us providing them on-going support. You will have given them the reassurance that we are here to help and to listen to them when they feel they have no one else to talk to. Victims can often feel isolated, that is where we can come in.
From supporting victims to speaking to perpetrators, it’s safe to say the helpline job is very diverse but it’s not all not all doom and gloom; we also have clients who call to tell us how their life has changed and to thank us for being there for them.