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World News

Churches well-placed to ‘walk alongside’ domestic abuse victims as new ‘Joint Justice’ approach is launched

by Donna Birrell

The police and Crown Prosecution Service have launched a new “Joint Justice” plan to better support victims of domestic abuse.

It involves better collaboration to improve charge and conviction rates, as well as reducing the amount of time cases take to get through the system.

Bekah Legg, CEO of Christian charity Restored, which helps support victims and equip the Church to respond to domestic abuse has welcomed the news.

“We've certainly seen that within our own survivors network,” she said.

“We host an online community for Christian women in particular and over the last four years, we've gone from 140 women to now pushing 660 women. So that's a massive increase, which shows that the problem is bigger than we ever thought. But the silver lining to that is at least those 660 women are finding support.”

Legg said the new “Joint Justice” approach which will particularly help victims when they report abuse.

“One of the things it's important to understand about trauma is that keep retelling your story means keep reliving the trauma,” she said.

“So it just means it becomes a very traumatic situation, which just becomes harder and harder. In the old days you were then expected to sit in a court in front of your abuser, telling them the story. Now, a lot of work has been done over the last couple of years to stop that.

“And this new statement really is saying, this is the Crown Prosecution Service, and the police trying to work together to make it as simple and as streamlined. So for example, the first time you call you could be triaged to a domestic abuse specialist on a video call, and they'll capture all the evidence once. The story is just told once and that makes life so much easier for somebody.”

Domestic abuse charity Refuge has said calls to its helpline are up 40 per cent in two years.

Meanwhile, the latest Office for National Statistics figures show one in seven men (13.9 per cent) and one in four women (27 per cent) will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime.

Restored offers resources, including a church guide and online training, to help church leaders think through what domestic abuse is and how to respond.

Legg said: “What people need more than anything else is community, someone to walk alongside them, not to be an expert, not to have all the answers, but to say ‘you're not on your own anymore. We've got you. We are listening, we believe you and we'll be with you on this road as you contact experts, as you go to the police if that's what you want to do’, and that's what the Church can do.”

More information about Restored can be found here:

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