In a pilot scheme, held across nine areas of the UK, Citizens Advice asked clients seeking help with financial and housing problems questions about their lives. Previously only 0.8 per cent of clients had spoken of abuse when seeking help for other problems.
The charity explains:
“…the Citizens Advice service took action and piloted a new radical programme in bureaux across the country to give victims a safe space to disclose this hidden violence by asking a few routine questions.”
No less than 27 per cent of female clients involved in the ‘ASK’ scheme said they had experienced domestic violence at certain points since the age of 16 – three per cent higher than the national reported average of 24 per cent.
If the same discrepancy were in place across the rest of the UK, it would equal 540,000 victims of unreported domestic violence, the charity claims – “the vast majority of whom would otherwise have stayed silent.”
Gillian Guy is Chief Executive of the charity. She said:
“Citizens Advice has seen a shocking 21,000 reports of domestic violence over the last year. According to the findings of the project we have undertaken to get more people to disclose their experiences of abuse, it seems this is could be a fraction of the hidden national figure.”