A day in the life of a Youth IDVA

Llewella is a Solace Independent Domestic Violence Advisor working with young people in a hospital. She spoke to us about a typical day at work.

I walk through the Emergency Department to get to the office - there’s already a few waiting at 9am on a Monday. I notice there’s a young girl sat inside wearing sunglasses. Harmless, maybe, but it’s worth checking in case they are to conceal an injury. I duck my head in to the nurses office to flag it and ask them to ring me if they need to. Working together in this way with medical staff is really important in my role, being able to ask the right questions and identify warning signs means young people stay safe.

My first task is to contact someone I work with who has run away from her placement – I need to make sure she is with someone safe, and speak to her social worker and police who are also involved. I have also received a text message back from a young person I have been trying to get in contact with since she left the hospital. She had been very wary to tell me what was going on between her and her boyfriend - young people are sometimes afraid of getting people they care about in trouble, or of what will happen if they tell. So this is a success to start the week with.

Our programme co-ordinator has identified a young woman came in to the hospital over the weekend having taken an overdose. The staff are worried about her, so I go to see her on the ward; I sit on the bed and only go in with my diary and a pen so that I don’t look too official and scare her off. I say that I’m someone who works with people having troubles in their relationships, and we chat a bit about how it’s been for her being in hospital with all the nurses whizzing around. I ask her to tell me a bit about the people in her life. She is quiet. I say to her that I am worried there is something she doesn’t want to say, and I go through all the different support in place if she wanted to tell me about anything that may be happening to her. Once she hears her options I can see she feels a bit more prepared to tell me. We sit down to explore her relationship and what has happened to lead to her being in A&E.

When young people go through domestic abuse, it affects their self-worth, self-confidence, their trust and their belief in people. It can be a really difficult and stressful process to disclose what’s happening, and to move forward from it. However, when you connect with young people when they are in a crisis like this, build their trust to tell you, and empower them to leave a relationship if they choose, you get to see them grow even in a short amount of time. You see how strong and resilient young people can be and it shows you how much potential we have as human beings when we are supported.

I also love seeing young people progress with things like schooling, friendship groups and family relationships. Often these things break down when a young person is in an abusive relationship. I like seeing these things repair as they often do when we tackle the abuse. Most of all, I enjoy seeing young people’s incredible acts of courage; I often get the privilege to see them break away from incredibly challenging circumstances.

I write up my case notes, send some emails and prepare to do it all again tomorrow.

If you're interested in working to combat violence against women and girls - join our team. Current vacancies here