Support with legal options

Refuge’s Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) support women and children who are in the process of going through the criminal justice system with a case against their abuser.


The legal system can be complex, intimidating and isolating for victims of domestic violence. Our Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) provide expert guidance for women going through the civil and criminal courts. They support women and children who are at the highest risk of serious injury or homicide.

An IDVA’s role often begins at the point of crisis for a victim – for example, just after a police call out or when a woman goes to hospital for medical help after a violent attack.

IDVAs help to keep women and children safe whilst liaising with the numerous agencies involved in pressing charges against an abuser. They can help assess the risk your abuser poses to you, and can bring agencies together to address these risks.

An IDVA can also help you with the following things:

  • Accompanying you to court or arranging pre-trial visits so that you are comfortable and familiar with the environment
  • Supporting you to give evidence against your abuser
  • Helping you write a victim impact statement
  • Requesting special measures in court, e.g. screens to conceal you so that you don’t have to face your abuser
  • Helping you create safety plans for you and your children
  • Helping you access refuge accommodation
  • Providing you with information about protective orders or child contact issues


Our IDVAs help increase victims’ confidence in the criminal justice system:

“I was given help and support throughout a very frightening and painful period after I was assaulted. Just knowing that I could call someone and get that help was wonderful – it certainly helped me to recover. I would like to thank the IDVA and Refuge very much.”