My first few weeks with next chapter IDVA service My name is Aimee and I am the newest member of the IDVA team at Next Chapter. I previously worked in a hospital in the Maternity Unit and this is where my journey towards wanting to become an IDVA began. I became passionate, motivated and driven about supporting victims of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, there is a link between pregnancy, new births and domestic abuse. It can be an escalation point within a controlling relationship. Around 30% of domestic abuse begins in pregnancy and 40-60% of women experiencing domestic abuse are still abused during pregnancy, so whilst working in the Maternity Unit I cared for many women who were experiencing abuse. I felt extreme pride when being offered my role at Next Chapter and knew that I was going to do all that I can to make a difference to the lives of people living with domestic abuse. I remember going for my interview and feeling overwhelmingly nervous but excited at the same time. Once I arrived and met Ruth, Sally and Nikki, they immediately made me feel at ease. They talked a little bit about what Next Chapter is all about and the service they provide and from then - I knew this was the right move for me! I feel inspired by the team and all the support they have given me, I am learning every day, mostly it is my clients who inspire me to do the very best I can for them. Sometimes people just want to talk, they want to feel less alone, they want to know that someone is listening, not judging just listening, and I find this in itself goes a long way. I know this can be the first step to building up a professional working relationship to build on empowerment, safety and the ability to move on free from a life of isolation and fear. I also understand that this isn’t an easy topic to talk about for most, especially when its so raw. That’s why I always try to remain most respectful, non-judgemental and compassionate when speaking to my clients. In a previous blog from the IDVA team we talked about IDVA in Lockdown. Well for me this is how I started my role as COVID-19 put a stop to our way of working at Next Chapter, so really, for now it’s all I know. I feel that this has both pro’s and con’s, as it’s a brand-new role for me and has forced me to work out of my comfort zone, but it has been a new experience for everyone involved. Thank god for zoom, phone calls and countless emails! Every member of staff have been there to support, advise and train me whilst having their own job load. It’s made it feel a little less daunting and isolating experience. I know I can ask the team anything and no question is a silly question. This role has truly opened my eyes to domestic abuse, and I have learnt that no one case is the same. Unfortunately abuse comes in many different forms - emotional, physical, sexual, financial and psychological. I feel a lot of people in this world just see domestic abuse as physical, but that is far from the case. I have found that some clients tend to play the abuse down if it hasn’t got physical, but what a lot of people don’t realise is, any type of abuse can have the same effect on one person, sometimes even worse. For example, emotional abuse can have just as much affect on one person as physical abuse can. The bruises and scars that are not visible from psychological, emotional and coercive abuse take a long time to heal. All domestic abuse is a crime and no one should have to live in fear. I suppose the point I’m trying to make is, any abuse whether its physical or not shouldn’t be tolerated or pushed aside, as abuse in general is a serious matter. In the short time I have been doing the IDVA role, the best thing I have taken away from the experience so far is - you CAN lead a happy life after domestic abuse, its possible. Unfortunately, domestic abuse is more common than many people may think, especially now more then ever. But with the right support, guidance and taking the necessary positive steps there is no reason why anyone can’t have a future without domestic abuse. One thing I say is "This is right now, but not forever." - I live by that motto myself.