A safe, just and equal world for women

Advance launches new domestic abuse and sexual health service

September 6, 2023
Advance is partnering with IRISi and London’s Violence Reduction Unit to deliver a new service within the Sexual Health Clinic at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington.

Domestic abuse charity Advance is working with IRISi and London’s Violence Reduction Unit to launch a new service at the Sexual Health Clinic at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

The Advance team will be leading the delivery of ADViSE (Assessing for Domestic Violence and Abuse in Sexual Health Environments) a programme developed by IRISi. It supports clinicians to identify patients affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence, and gives them a simple referral pathway to specialist services. Commissioned by the Violence Reduction Unit, it will be running in London for the first time in two areas.

Dr Ali Mears, Consultant in Sexual Health at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“As a large London sexual health service we’re thrilled to be part of the ADViSE project. We know domestic abuse and sexual violence can occur in in all relationships, across all genders and sexualities and that sexual health clinics are safe places for everyone to attend. This includes all members of our LGBTQ+ communities, who may not feel comfortable attending their GP or non-specialist health settings. This evidence-based project will provide our patients with easy to access, non-judgemental, comprehensive and expert support and advice, whether the abuse is currently happening or happened many years ago. Being able to support and empower our patients is priceless.”

Ramisha, Advance Senior Service Manager for Health, said:

“Advance is dedicated to improving healthcare responses and outcomes to domestic abuse. Collaborating with Imperial College Healthcare Trust’s at St. Mary’s Sexual Health Department and IRISi through the ADViSE programme marks a significant leap forward. This London pilot excites us, promising expanded survivor access to crucial services.

“Our partnership with Imperial Trust and the Sexual Health Department at St. Mary’s builds on our collaboration to support survivors of domestic abuse pre and during the pandemic.  It ensures survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence get increased support in familiar settings. Advance’s dedicated Advocate Educator will provide guidance and support to both survivors and healthcare professionals at the hospital, ensuring survivors receive the care they need to be safe and professionals are equipped with the necessary tools to respond to domestic and/or sexual abuse disclosures, needs and risk.”

Lib Peck, Director of London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), said:

“Our investment will provide vital support for healthcare practitioners to offer support for those affected by domestic abuse through targeted services. No one should suffer in silence, which is why this investment is so crucial as it will reach those who are not usually recognised or supported with the services they desperately need. Our partnership with the healthcare sector and domestic abuse specialists highlights that together we can prevent violence against women and girls.”

Charlotte Chappell, ADViSE Lead and Senior Regional Manager at IRISi, said:

“The ADViSE programme provides clinicians with a simple referral pathway to specialist services. Our  vision is a world in which gender-based violence is consistently recognised and addressed as a health issue, and to improve the healthcare response to gender-based violence through health and specialist services working together.

“The launch of ADViSE means more survivors will have access to vital support. It also shows the importance of commitment from public investors to establish a robust and well-integrated model to address the needs of domestic abuse and sexual violence survivors in a holistic and sustainable way.”

Domestic abuse is often connected to sexual health and gynaecological problems. It has links to an increase in sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unintended pregnancy.

The scale of the issue:
  • 1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic abuse.
  •  1.9 million women are victims of domestic abuse per year in England and Wales, and
  • 2 women are killed per week in England and Wales.
  •  1 in 5 children in the UK have lived with an adult perpetrating domestic violence.
  • 9 out of 10 victims reported improvements in safety following intervention by a hospital Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) according to a Safer Lives report.
  • A Galop report found 6 in 10 (61%) LGBT+ survivors did not seek support from services following abuse by a family member or a partner/ex-partner.



For all press enquiries, please contact:

E: press@advancecharity.org.uk
T: 020 39533111 

About Advance
  • Advance’s vision is a world in which women and children lead safe, equal, violence-free lives so that they can flourish and actively contribute to society. The charity works with women who experience domestic abuse to be safe and take control of their lives, and women who have committed crime or are at risk of offending to break the cycle.
  • As well as providing direct support, Advance works with statutory services, government agencies and other women’s charities to ensure a holistic approach to the issues these women face.
  • Advance works in health care settings, supporting general practitioners (GPs) and the wider healthcare team to better understand how to identify domestic abuse, how to ask about it, improve understanding of safeguarding and how to refer women into domestic abuse services like Advance. Learn more about our Whole Health Approach
  • Women must be referred to Advance, via statutory services or the charity’s self-referral scheme. For more information about who Advance is able to support, please visit Get Help
  • For facts and statistics about domestic abuse and women in the criminal justice system, as well as Advance’s work, please visit Our Impact
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