“I’ve been an IDVA for the last 12 years where I have supported hundreds of high risk victims. My greatest joy is seeing the people I have worked with transition from a frightened frozen individual to a safe, confident survivor.
However, during this time one of the recurring challenges we faced was how do we make something as stressful and terrifying as going to court a positive, liberating experience where victims can see their abuser being held to account for their actions. All domestic abuse victims going through the civil and criminal court deserve to feel that their voices are heard, their situation understood and rights respected so that ultimately justice is served for them and their family.
Sadly my experience has shown me on too many occasions special measures were not in place; victims were not kept up to date, perpetrators were released without the IDVA or the victim knowing; suitable orders were either not applied for or victims couldn’t access legal aid all of which ultimately put the victim at risk of further harm. After many years of frustration, the charity I work for, Reducing the Risk, decided to close this missing link, and set out to improve the court experience for victims going through the criminal and civil court process. So 18 months ago I became the embedded court IDVA for Oxfordshire.
We naively thought that we would probably have around 50 referrals during the pilot stage. In reality we have had over 200. Over this time I have demonstrated to the court the added value this role can bring, I am now seen and known, included and consulted, I have my own room I speak with all victims, those who are known to a DA support service and sadly the many that have not accessed support.. I facilitate pre trial visits, if needed I transport victims to court, sit with, support, advise and be there during the trial and post trial I ensure ongoing support is available.
As with all work in this area relationships with multi-agency partners is vital to the safety and wellbeing of victims, and, because of our relationship with Thames Valley Police I also am informed of all DVPNs and contact all victims where a DVPO is applied for. I keep all victims up to date and monitor all cases so that victims have a single point of contact and the advice and support they need.
When I first started in this role I saw many victims where an order was required to ensure their safety but because they had a house ( even though no money) they could not access legal aid. Working with the court and solicitors I can now assist victims in applying for orders. One of my proudest moments as the Oxfordshire Court IDVA was assisting a terrified and traumatised victim to apply for and be granted a non molestation order, a non occupation order, a prohibited steps order and a child arrangement order when she didn’t have any legal aid.
Being an IDVA is a privilege, being an IDVA which works with High Risk victims is a necessity, being a Court IDVA is an evolution towards the right future for our profession and our victims.”
– Nikkie, Court IDVA
Nikkie is a Court IDVA at Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse and sits within the High-Risk Team.
She will be hosting a webinar titled Learning from the Court IDVA, outlining her experiences, on 26th April 2022 11:00-12:00.
Thank you to our funders The Charles Hayward Trust, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner.
A full evaluation of the impact of this role will be published on 26th April 2022 and will be available on our website.