Domestic abuse can happen to anyone. It can take up to 35 attempts for people to leave an abusive relationship.  But for those with learning disabilities it is more difficult. What does this mean for how services are delivered? CarmDas and Carmarthenshire People First with support and funding from Lloyds Bank Foundation found out.

People with learning disabilities may find it even harder to recognise unhealthy or abusive relationships, and are afraid to tell people if they are aware.  Too often they do not know what support is out there and are afraid of the consequences of speaking out.  Research with people with learning disabilities also showed there was often “protectivisim” by families and institutions.  Missed opportunities by professionals only adds to these challenges. Where support needs are identified, many people are signposted to safeguarding rather than special domestic abuse services. In listening to the experiences, fears, needs and ideas of people with learning disabilities, CarmDas and Carmarthenshire People First have been able to highlight where policies, funding and services need to change.

The work has raised the profile of this issue within the police, adult safeguarding, health and other agencies.  The charities have also developed a toolkit, tested by people with learning disabilities, that can be used by professionals and individuals to communicate about domestic abuse more effectively – and this work has also been cited as good practice in the Welsh Women’s Aid National Report on Abuse and Disability. 

While the toolkit is already available for other services to access online, CarmDas and Carmarthenshire People First also plan to develop training and a champion’s model to further roll out the toolkit across Carmarthenshire.  They will also use the findings of their work to develop online information for people with learning disabilities to access. 

Through the work, CarmDas has been able to re-assess the way they work with individuals differently, to ensure their needs are met - and other services can use their work to adopt new practices in their own services too.

The Easy Read toolkit is available here:

Toolkit 

The report summary is available here:

Transform Summary Report