Today is one year since we launched our Live Chat. We have supported 751 sessions, giving our expert advice and help via 1 to 1 confidential support. To recognise one year, one of our frontline support workers has given her insight into what is it like working with vulnerable people who have accessed our live chat throughout the year.
Ola, Live Chat Frontline Support Worker
“Making the decision to leave domestic abuse and figure out how to leave safely has never been easy. Victims often leave with no money and no idea of where they will end up. This and everything else that has to be considered makes it even more difficult.
On top of that, the pandemic made the road to refuge and safety even longer and narrower. Survivors, whose usual respite from domestic abuse – attending work, college, face-to-face appointments with their GP – had all these taken away. Victims and survivors were faced with a new reality of not being able to ask for help. People placed on furlough or suddenly unemployed, unsure of their next paycheque. Health conditions meant some worried they would put themselves and their children at risk by going into a refuge.
This was why we launched our Live Chat service operating three two-hour slots, 7 days a week. I was proud to be asked to cover some shifts on the Live Chat. I was responding to and dealing with wide-ranging experiences, offering a safe space to explore options for safety and support.
Saying no two chats are the same might be a cliché. Some survivors access the service seeking validation. Someone to confirm that what they are experiencing is not normal and not their fault. After all, if someone kept telling you that a dog is really a cat. If they are threatening you, reminding you, withdrawing affection, making your home hostile for you and your children. Eventually, you might just agree that dogs can morph into cats.
There are survivors in dangerous homes who need support to find a safe place. There are survivors who are can’t just leave for various complex reasons. For them, the pandemic meant fewer doors were left open. Fewer options. Fewer exits.
We have been able to provide much-needed support. Operating a survivor-led online chat service in a compassionate and confidential way. Staffed by experienced domestic abuse support workers. We became accustomed to listening and developing skills to read between the lines without the benefit of body language and the stories it tells.
For some, accessing the online chat may feel like going for a procedure. We know the procedure is going to make us better, but we are unsure if we are ready. Being online in that context feels as if the door has been left open, you know you can leave and choose to come back when you are ready. If you want someone to just listen when you are ready, that is what we do.
We adopt a person-centred approach, supporting each survivor to choose what is best for them, in a non-judgmental, supportive, and empowering way.
So, when I receive comments such as “thank you for being there” “thank you for just listening.” I think of how far we have come in the domestic abuse support world. How technology and funding have improved the way we provide support and hopefully, for some, make that road to safety and recovery shorter and less fraught.
In this first year, we have supported 751 chat sessions. I feel humbled to have been one of the frontline service staff helping to keep victims and survivors of domestic abuse safe. I am proud that SafeNet’s live chat is celebrating its first anniversary.”
To access our Live Chat visit our website and click the box in the bottom right-hand corner to start the chat. Available 7 days a week at 3 available timeslots – 10am – 12pm, 2pm – 4pm, 8pm – 10pm