Solace calls for Women’s Health Strategy to include VAWG

Solace, one of the UK’s largest single providers of services for survivors of violence against women and girls has written a detailed submission to the Department of Health and Social Care in response to their call for evidence for a Women’s Health Strategy.

Solace CEO told us, ‘we’re pleased that the Government has identified that women live in a health and care system that is mostly designed by men, and that they often have poorer advice and face complex barriers that can prevent them receiving the health care they need.   We welcome the new women’s health strategy but would also urge for the inclusion of the   impact of male violence against women and girls (VAWG)on women’s physical and mental health.’

Since March 2020 Solace has seen an increase of 117% in calls to their Advice Line with the calls taking longer because of increased complexity; 97% of calls now last over an hour.

Male violence against women and girls causes serious physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems for women. Domestic abuse alone is estimated to cost the health service in England and Wales £2.3 billion each year.

‘Health professionals are often the first frontline service that a woman may have contact with, and so training and in-depth understanding of VAWG is vital to support survivors,’ Dwyer continues, ‘65% of survivors experience mental or emotional problems as well as 42% sustaining physical injuries. Research has shown that domestic abuse is the leading cause of foetal death. It’s imperative that any Women’s Health strategy acknowledges the short and long term health implications of male VAWG and clearly identifies pathways to help women who urgently need it.’

Solace is calling for the Government to recognise the complexity of issues that increase barriers for women seeking help, whether this is age, language, ethnicity, disability, immigration status or the need to develop training and resources to support frontline health staff to identify behaviours that women may display as a result of trauma.

In the UK two women a week are killed by men and a further nine are estimated to commit suicide at least in part due to domestic violence. Survivors routinely come into contact with health services, so it is vital the new strategy includes the impact of VAWG.

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