Measuring the impact of the “How to Build Your Own Domestic Violence Case Without A Lawyer” toolkit.
“Firstly, you are a strong, powerful, and valuable person”. This is the message that greets users in the preface to Chayn’s toolkit “How to build your own domestic violence case without a lawyer” — a message of hope and empowerment. In my experience of working with abuse survivors, it is crucial to understand that abusive relationships are fundamentally disempowering. This effect is only amplified by increased social isolation, mental anguish and distrust or inability to negotiate the legal system.
Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in society, and occurs in all settings and among all socioeconomic, religious and cultural groups. In the World Health Organisation’s multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women, it was confirmed that up to 61% of women in 10 countries had experience physical violence by a partner, and a deeply disturbing 75% of women reported experiencing an emotionally abusive act from a partner in their lifetime. Though sometimes overwhelming, the health and lives of women are at stake, both through direct physical injuries and through chronic health problems that arise. Therefore, any woman who is helped feel empowered enough to collect evidence and leave their perpetrator, makes Chayn’s work worthwhile.
The “How to Build Your Own Domestic Violence Case Without a Lawyer” toolkit was launched last November, supported by Garden Court Chambers, and since then has been recorded as a podcast, which is now available in Urdu and English, with translations in Arabic, Pashto, Russian and Portuguese under way. The safety of women who are accessing the toolkit is imperative and so we have created false covers and the podcast means that those women who struggle with literacy or do not want it downloaded, can listen and learn how to build their way out of their abusive relationship.
With an eventful seven months having passed I am about to embark upon a research project with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to assess the toolkit’s accessibility and usability by women living or working in London, and Non-Governmental Organisation members whose aim it is to help them. This work will help assess the method of online toolkits in aiding women who are most disempowered in reaching out to face-to-face organisations, and will allow Chayn to understand more fully the situations in which the toolkit may be most useful.
Although it is understood that it takes an enormous amount of strength and potentially a lot of support to leave a perpetrator, this toolkit allows a woman to begin a journey out of her abusive situation and hopefully feel empowered enough to begin it by collecting and presenting evidence. The toolkit guides you through different processes of collecting evidence and encouragingly provides practical examples of what is most useful before moving on to templates of how best to present the case in order to have it voiced loud and clear.
Chayn fundamentally believes that everyone has the right to lead a happy life — safe from abuse, oppression and control. Evaluating this toolkit is just another way in which Chayn can understand how to empower in the most impactful way.
I’m looking to interview survivors and lawyers who are aware of the toolkit or have used it. If you would like to help — please do reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org