The upcoming general election means that the wait goes on for the Domestic Abuse Bill, which was first announced back in 2017.
After a few years of delays and debating, we do at least have an outline of what the Bill will look like, and many of the proposals are positive.
The Bill hopes to work to transform the response to domestic abuse, as well as providing greater protections for victims, and it goes a long way to achieving that.
However, for it to achieve the “landmark” change it desires, it must ensure that it supports everyone and, sadly, it currently falls short on this front.
It particularly lacks in the way of measures for children and young people, failing to properly recognise the huge impact that domestic abuse has on them.
Domestic abuse is not something that children just witness, they experience it, and this has a substantial affect in the short and long-term, in childhood and when they are adults too.
A report commissioned by charity Hestia explored the impact that domestic abuse had on adults that had experienced it in their childhood.
Over half of the participants that had lived with domestic abuse had experienced mental health problems and a similar number had struggled forming and maintaining relationships, citing trust issues as key reason for this.
The impact that domestic abuse has is clear and long-lasting, which is why the Bill must be proactive in getting to the root of the issue.
There needs to be support services in place for children and young people, enabling them to express their emotions and come to terms with their experiences.
This will help to reduce the long-term affects that domestic abuse has on their lives, as well as helping them to build positive relationships and self-confidence moving forward.
Sadly, there are many specialist organisations across the country that are unable to run services for children and young people as the funding is simply not there.
For the Bill to be as transformative as it hopes to be, it must recognise the impact domestic abuse has on children and funding must be in place for specialist services.
Funding is, and always has been, an issue. There will be many organisations that are familiar with the constant battle to secure funds for vital services.
Whilst the Bill will ensure that councils fund safe accommodation services, which is an overwhelming positive, funding also needs to be made available for other forms of support.
There are many outreach services across the country that provide support within local communities but, without adequate funding, there is a risk that they will face cuts or stop completely.
Domestic abuse does not have a “one-size fits all” support model and this must be reflected in the range of services available, regardless of what part of the country you live in.
There have been many criticisms of a “postcode lottery” for services and this must be addressed to make the Domestic Abuse Bill a success.
The Bill has also received criticism for its lack of provisions for those from migrant communities that are experiencing domestic abuse.
Many migrant women are often in a vulnerable position through fears of their immigration status being used against them by the perpetrator and will often stay in an abusive relationship through fear of being deported.
A lot of these women have no recourse to public funds, meaning that they are unable to access refuge accommodation, with several specialist organisations without funding to provide this support.
For the Bill to be a success, it must ensure that it is able to provide support for everyone and must not leave some of the most vulnerable behind.
The next stages of the Bill’s progress are crucial, providing an opportunity to make amendments and will ultimately determine how successful it proves to be.
It is important to not lose sight of the many excellent proposals in the Domestic Abuse Bill that will make a huge difference, but this has the potential to achieve so much more.