Our Independent Advocacy Service is delivered by our fully accredited team of Black self-identified femme Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) and Independent Sexual Violence Advocates (ISVAs).
If you are looking for advocacy and support to understand your rights, options and empower you to use your voice - this can be through support with a wide range of agencies including civil and criminal courts, housing, health and education.
Navigating the criminal justice system leaves most people feeling confused and disempowered.
An Independent Advocate from HERSANA can help you pursue justice and put the building blocks in place to begin a new life, free from fear. Our Independent Advocates can also provide emotional and practical support during your journey.
If you would like to refer yourself for therapy at HERSANA you can do this through our online self-referral form or you can phone us.
Criminal Justice System
We recognise that it takes a huge amount of courage to bring a case against an abuser.
We also know that legal system can be confusing, frightening or isolating, in particular for Black femmes. Our Independent Advocates provide expert guidance for survivors who are going through the civil and criminal courts to bring their abusers to justice.
If you are considering reporting to the police, our Independent Advocates can also help you, by:
- Providing you with impartial information to enable you to make an informed decision.
- Offering an overview of police processes and what to expect if you do decide to report.
If you have already reported to the police, our team of qualified Independent Advocates can support you, by:
- Ensure your voice is heard.
- Help you make the choices that feel right for you.
- Accompany you to important appointments and to court. You may need advocacy to help with housing, legal issues and finance.
- Support you with your next steps after the legal process is over, regardless of the outcome of the case.
Advocating for yourself and having to retell your story can leave you feeling exhausted and frustrated. Our Independent Advocates can support you by advocating on your behalf with other – often statutory – agencies.
We help survivors take steps to regain their financial independence and begin to rebuild their life. We are able to support with supermarket vouchers, payments towards bills, course fees, white goods and more.
For those fleeing an abusive partner or family member, with or without children, our advocates can help you find and access emergency temporary accommodation with specialist staff on hand to offer one-to-one support.
We help women fleeing abuse navigate the welfare benefits provided by the government, including special rules to support survivors.
What happens after I complete the self-referral form?
We will contact you to arrange an assessment with one of our advocates. This assessment is an opportunity for you to ask questions and discuss whether you are considering reporting to the police and would like any form of advocacy support, and for us to get relevant information. After this assessment process is completed a joint decision will be made about moving forward with support.
Our Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) provide information and support for Black femmes who have experienced domestic violence or abuse, no matter when it happened.
Our main focus is around the criminal justice process. This might include but is not limited to: talking through reporting options; support with communication with the police; support in the lead up to a trial.
We can also help you with passing anonymous information to the Police, if you do not wish to make a formal report.
Your IDVA may also be able to offer advocacy around other issues relating to the offence, such as housing, sexual health follow-up, employment and study, and accessing counselling.
How is advocacy support delivered?
We offer our advocacy sessions either online via a secure video platform or in-person at one of our SANA hub spaces.
We are committed to making this service accessible for people with disabilities, special educational needs and other additional needs. If you have any access or communications needs, please get in touch so that we can seek to accommodate them.
We aim to provide you with the opportunity to explore whatever issues you want to, in a space that is safe where you can feel accepted and supported. However, there are some exceptions to us being able to offer complete confidentiality across all scenarios, and there may be times when we are limited in what we can discuss with you if criminal justice proceedings are something you are involved in or considering.
Circumstances in which we may be required to pass on information may include:
- if we become aware of a risk of harm to yourself, or to other people.
- if we are ordered to by a court of law
- if you give us information related to an act of terrorism
We would always endeavour to get your consent before we shared any information. We will discuss this with you further when we contact you about your referral.
Do I have to pay for this service?
All of our services are FREE.
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