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Domestic Abuse Health Advocates: How they can help

Domestic Abuse Health Advocates are an important point of contact for people experiencing domestic abuse. They can change a person’s life by helping them get away from abusers. They can help place victims in refuges and offer counselling towards recovery. Domestic Abuse Health Advocates signpost to local services that can help you recover control of your life.

We work with many DVA Health Advocates who have many stories to share. Below is a very common story that they encounter.

Please note that it contains triggers for those who may have experienced something similar.

A hospital story

I’m in hospital for surgery. As I’m sitting in my bed I look at the clock. It’s 1:30pm, I should be cleaning the kitchen now.

But I’m not at home. I don’t have to clean the house top to bottom before he gets home. I don’t have to have his dinner on the table at 5. I don’t have to wait until he has eaten to start my meal. I don’t have to be aware of all of his movements and think about the consequences of my actions.

It’s 2 in the afternoon now. Visiting hours. My mind starts racing, I can feel my heart rate increasing. I have one eye on the door and one eye on the doctors and nurses at their station. He’s here. I watch his every move and I am frozen in my bed.

He goes straight to my doctor, demanding to know my progression and when I will be ready to go home. My doctor tells him. Because he forced me to tell my doctor that they can share all my medical information.

He moves towards my bed. “You’re going to be home by the end of the week. You’ve got a lot of work to do when you get home”. I don’t dare ask how I am going to recover, I know it’s not my place. He doesn’t even speak to me. He just sits there waiting to see if anyone else comes to visit. He leaves when visiting hours end.

Finally, I can breathe again.

What I didn’t see is someone watching me. They saw how I tensed in his presence, how rigid I sat for the last 2 hours. This person was my passage of hope. The following day someone asked me the question I had been waiting to hear since I was admitted.

“Do you feel safe at home?”

That broke my barrier. Finally, I could share my story. And once I started I could not stop.

I found out later they were a Domestic Abuse Health Advocate, based at the hospital to support people going through what I am.

I was able to get the right support, I was able to leave. They worked with other professionals to make sure I had somewhere safe to go, they allowed me to fully recover from surgery. I am now working with someone in the community to help myself recover from the abuse I suffered.

It’s a long road to recovery, and I am still in fear every day. But I am working through it.

Contact us if you want to talk or need advice.

We offer free Dragonfly workshops for people who may come into contact with victims of domestic abuse.

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