Both of these SignHealth services are the first in the UK to help Deaf women and children suffering from domestic abuse and violence.
We realised there was a problem when women accessing our psychological therapy service told us their awful stories. Soon we understood Deaf people experienced domestic abuse twice as much as hearing people, so that’s why we set up the DeafHope services.
Our service means abused women can access help safely. We help people who have been forced into marriage or experienced genital mutilation (when parts of a woman’s vagina is dangerously removed with a knife/scissors without her permission). Future plans include a D/deaf-accessible helpline, family intervention and work with Deaf male abusers.
This service is not easy to run, especially because the Deaf community is small and everyone knows everyone, but it is help to change women’s lives for the better.
In 2010 Lynn Shannon, a professional in Deaf issues and domestic violence, joined our team. She was the first and only Deaf independent domestic violence advocate, and she made an action plan to help women who needed emergency support. She also works with children in schools and youth clubs to make sure they understand what healthy relationships are. She has secured funding, recruited and trained a specialist team of female British Sign Language staff and made strong links with refuges, local authorities, deaf clubs and Women’s Aid.
Our Young DeafHope project involves going into Deaf schools and teaching children about healthy relationships. One school thought all their students were happy, but shockingly, 8 out of 34 had been abused or victimised.
We are incredibly grateful for this nomination and want to thank the Charity Awards for celebrating our service.
The winners of our category, ‘Disability‘, will be announced on the 12th June.