Two child tax credit limit legislation change– insensitive and unfair to victims of sexual violence – Nexus NI.
Cara Cash, CEO of Nexus NI, said today:
“Like many of our partner organisations across the UK, we are hugely concerned about the introduction of a 2-child tax credit limit, which is to become effective across the UK today. We are asking Northern Ireland’s elected representatives along with others in Scotland, England and Wales to urge the UK government to rethink the introduction of this policy.”
“By its very introduction the government is suggesting that it is appropriate to force victims of sexual violence to disclose their abuse. This is dangerous on many levels, but given our more than 30 years’ experience of supporting victims of rape, it is the direct impact on them that worries us most. For most of the people who come to Nexus for specialist counselling, it has taken many years, often decades to disclose, and when they come to Nexus they are disclosing to highly trained professionals in the field. To then expect them to disclose this information to underqualified staff in a non-therapeutic setting in order to seek a benefit is shocking and demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of the impact that sexual violence has on its victims. It also continues to put the onus on the victim. It is asking victims to prove that they were raped, which will undoubtedly multiply the feelings of guilt, shame and fear they already feel.”
This policy would be asking women in already potentially vulnerable positions, who may need this benefit to support their family to somehow prove they were the victim of rape. This is cruel and highly likely to increase their vulnerability and further traumatise them. It may also lead to a ripple effect which has not been anticipated and could lead to greater demand for services like ours.
Cara continued; “The way in which a victim would be expected to “prove” they were raped is hugely troubling. Given that victims may not know their perpetrator and therefore could have great difficulty in proving they were raped. Or indeed, they may know the perpetrator intimately having been raped by their partner/husband/relative/friend. How then can we expect a woman who may be living in a hugely abusive domestic setting to come forward and disclose? We can only assume that these elements of the policy manifestation have not been thought through as the policy is both insensitive and hugely unfair to victims of sexual violence.
“Finally, the law in Northern Ireland means that at the point of disclosure of a crime that crime has to be reported to the police. Therefore not only are we forcing victims to disclose, we are forcing them and those parties they disclose to, to engage with criminal justice, which the victim may not want, and neither party may be emotionally or mentally ready to do. The government must consider the impact on victims, and on the staff who are being forced to hear disclosures of sexually violent crimes. This policy could lead to re-traumatisation of victims, impact on their mental health and potentially vicarious trauma for those expected to assist the victim in pursuing their case for this benefit.
“For all of these reasons Nexus NI cannot support this policy and we are asking elected representatives in NI and across the UK to consider again the impact that this law would have on women across Northern Ireland.”
For more information or to speak to Cara Cash please contact 02890 326803 or email firstname.lastname@example.org