Independent domestic violence advocacy

Refuge’s Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) support victims of domestic violence who are at the highest risk of serious injury or homicide.


The legal system can be frightening and isolating for victims of domestic violence. Our team of independent advocates provide practical and emotional support to clients who are at the highest levels of risk.

Our IDVAs help to keep clients safe whilst liaising with the numerous agencies involved in pressing charges against perpetrators. They advocate for the client – acting as their ‘eyes and ears’.


An IDVA can help with the following:

  • Creating safety plans and undertaking risk assessments
  • Accompanying clients to court or arranging pre-trial visits
  • Supporting clients to give evidence and write victim impact statements
  • Requesting special measures eg. screens to conceal clients in court so they don’t have to face their abuser
  • Helping clients to access refuge accommodation
  • Helping clients to increase security in their property so that they can continue to live safely at home
  • Providing emotional support and referring victims to counselling or mental health services
  • Liaise with social workers on child protection issues

Our IDVAs have been shown to substantially reduce the risk facing victims of domestic violence.

IDVAs also play a crucial role in the community. They provide vital domestic violence training to key agencies such as the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, which greatly improves the way they respond to domestic violence cases.

Refuge’s maternity IDVA service

In February 2011, Refuge launched a pioneering IDVA service from the maternity unit of a London hospital.  30% of domestic violence starts or increases at the point of pregnancy.

Read more about this innovative service in an article in the Independent on Sunday (published December 2012).


“The Independent Domestic Violence Advocates have improved countless lives: by successfully supporting prosecutions and holding the guilty accountable, they stop the ever increasing cycle of violence that can lead to serious injury or worse.”

PC Fiona Loxton, Community Safety Unit, Southwark