Sector Challenge Programme

Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence

Challenges around providing counselling and building meaningful connections online

The introduction of social distancing and isolation guidelines has placed additional practical, emotional and financial stress on families – increasing the likelihood that abuse will take place and that children will be exposed to it, and reducing opportunities for victims and their children to safely and confidentially seek support.

We are supporting two sector challenges for organisations that support individuals who have experienced sexual abuse and/or domestic violence, working with perpetrators to reduce the risks to survivors. These challenges have come from a series of open discussions between DOT PROJECT and organisations working in sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Challenge 3: Effective online counselling services for survivors▼

We want to prototype an approach for organisations who are transferring counselling service for survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence in the online space.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on individuals experiencing sexual abuse and domestic violence. A Panorama investigation found that two-thirds of women in abusive relationships have suffered more violence from their partners during the pandemic, with Refuge reporting that calls and contacts to their helpline have increased by 66% and visits to their website have increased  950%. This dramatic spike in demand is being dealt with by staff and volunteers who are now operating remotely and have had to rapidly transfer their services online without the time and space to assess fully the ethical, practical and safeguarding considerations.

This brief focuses on creating more effective approaches to online counselling which are specific to the sexual abuse and domestic violence sector. This includes exploring how service users can be effectively supported during times of acute crisis and considering what skills and confidence teams feel they need to become more confident in delivering counselling services online. 

We are looking for three organisations who focus on this area to join a funded opportunity to work collaboratively with a digital partner over an 11 week project.

If you're not able to apply for the grant, we'd love you to contribute your ideas through paid consultations. Sign up below and we'll be in touch.

Apply for this challengeSign up for consultation

Challenge 4: Creating meaningful connections▼

We want to explore how service users can create meaningful online connections with support organisations  in order to build trust and ensure they get the most appropriate services and support.

The focus of this brief is to explore ways of creating meaningful connections and maintaining relationships with services users who are survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence. Lockdown has meant many survivors are spending more time at home with their abusers. Their ability to interact with and engage with services has changed, with many preferring to connect via live chat rather than telephone or video because they cannot find space to discreetly access support.

Organisations working in this sector report that maintaining a meaningful connection, which is important in providing psychological support, assessing safety and signposting to other services, is now much more difficult. Staff need to form relationships with service users in a different way using online tools which they are still getting used to.

This grant provides funding for sexual abuse and domestic violence organisations who are delivering online support to their service users to work with a digital partner and two other charities / civil society organisations. This includes exploring how digital touchpoints and tools can be used to create safe, accessible and inclusive online spaces where new connections can be made and existing relationships can be strengthened.

We are looking for three organisations who focus on this area to join a funded opportunity to work collaboratively with a digital partner over an 11 week project.

If you're not able to apply for the grant, we'd love you to contribute your ideas through paid consultations. Sign up below and we'll be in touch.

Apply for this challengeSign up for consultation

This is one of four themes in the Sector Challenge Programme.

You'll find more information about the programme, eligiblity criteria, and how to apply here:

Find out more and apply