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Charity breaking barriers for deaf victims of abuse

Deaf-initly women

Caroline Henry and Veronica Stewart

A charity is introducing a brand-new service to Nottinghamshire to help hard-of-hearing victims and survivors of domestic abuse.

Deaf-initely Women is governed by and serves deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing women in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire to give them a support network and access to new opportunities.

Deaf Abuse Free is the charity’s newly offered project, funded by Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry, which has been created to break down the barriers faced by deaf, deafblind, and hard-of-hearing women who are victims of abuse.

The importance of having fully accessible services for hard-of-hearing victims of abuse is shown through the women they are already supporting.

One survivor helped by Deaf-initely Women is a woman who is profoundly deaf as well as having Autism and ADHD.

She became involved in an abusive relationship with a man who she didn’t realise was a well-known paedophile. He was able to keep this information from her because of her hearing impairment, which he took advantage of to control who she communicated with.

The now ex-partner, who has full hearing abilities, forced her to perform sexual acts against her will and isolated her from her friends and family so that the abuse could continue.

Through reaching out to Deaf-initely Women, who could serve her communication needs, she was able to get the help she needed to escape the violence.

He is now in prison, but the survivor still receives continued support and counselling to help with the trauma of the relationship.

As the service has been successful supporting cases like this in Derby and Derbyshire, Deaf Abuse Free has now been brought over to support the same communities in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

The support given by the service will be fully inclusive with British sign language interpreters, captions, video and email or text communication to meet a wide range of communication needs.

The funding has also allowed Deaf-initely Women to allocate a new Navigational Support worker for the service who will go on to support victims.

Veronica Stewart has been recruited and is delighted to join the Deaf Abuse Free team and will be supported by both Deborah Lush, Domestic Abuse Service Manager and Teresa Waldron, managing director in delivering a brand-new service in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

Deborah said: “This is fantastic news for us as Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner recognised the importance for deaf women to be supported by a deaf female Independent Domestic Violence Advocate”.

During the recent launch event of Deaf Abuse Free, Commissioner Henry visited Deaf-initely Women at the Death Society in the Arboretum.

It gave her the opportunity to meet the team and hear all about the hard work they have been doing across the two counties.

She was also able to answer questions from attendees to assure them that Nottinghamshire Police is working hard to be accessible for the deaf community.

Commissioner Henry said: “Deaf-initely Women have been doing some fabulous work in Derbyshire, and the new service Deaf Abuse Free is something I really welcome in Nottinghamshire.

“It’s really important that all survivors of abuse have access to support, so we need to make sure there are accessible services available for those who need extra support.”

Sign Health Charity, an NHS partner who work to improve the health and wellbeing of Deaf people, has also welcomed the news.

A spokesperson said: “This is fabulous news and is timely too - an opportunity for us to refer some of our clients to Deaf-initely Women. This is an essential service for all deaf women to be able to access support without barriers and with understanding”.

For more information about the Deaf Abuse Free service Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, please contact:

Posted on Wednesday 22nd February 2023
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