Domestic abuse – multi-language support

10 April 2024
Solitary figure stands in front on small community looking anxious.

The Women’s Centre Cornwall were commissioned by Safer Cornwall for a community engagement project with migrant women in Cornwall who did not speak English.

They set up an International Women’s Group and collaborated with women from Romanian, Bulgarian, Portuguese and Ukranian communities to look at the barriers to receiving support for women who did not speak English, who are affected by domestic abuse. They looked at Cornwall’s approach, how this compared to best practice and co-produced some actions.

This followed on from learnings from a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) in 2020 which stated the need to:

The International Women’s Group explored the issues around accessing information and what could be improved. Women reported that they did not access information via leaflets and none had any seen a leaflet in their own language. Most women said they used YouTube and other websites to find information.


Engagement with migrant women made it clear that they were most likely to access information through online videos in their own language. The project led to the development of a suite of videos that describe domestic abuse and provide information on where to go for support. These were produced in a number of different languages – Arabic, Bulgarian, English, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Ukrainian. Work continues to add more to this library. The multi-lingual animation series can be found here.

Everyone in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly affected by domestic abuse and/or sexual violence (DASV) should be able to access support from Safer Futures, our commissioned DASV service and the police.

“International women’s voices and experiences are central to the design and delivery of our services. This is crucial for engagement, inclusion and empowerment. We aim to create a safe, supported and confidential space where women can be themselves and together.”

Annemarie Bala, International Women’s Group Coordinator
The Women’s Centre Cornwall

Interpreter Provision

A mixed experience of receiving support from interpreters was had by women in Cornwall. Service staff were often unaware of the provision available in their own organisations and there are risks around using people from local communities and who are not trained in domestic abuse and sexual violence (DASV) or trauma-informed practice. Many women said they simply would not disclose abuse to someone within their community and would rather speak to a British support worker.

The International Women’s Group used the services of Clear Voice to engage interpreters, as they demonstrated an understanding of trauma. They found that a proactive offer of an interpreter is important for better quality of support.


As a result of this work, a report to Safer Cornwall made the following recommendations:

  1. A clear direction to be provided for services.
  2. Expenses to be reflected in the commissioning of services.
  3. Good practice is not necessarily translating from policy to practice.
  4. A key barrier for women accessing support is fear around their immigration status, which is used to control individuals to prevent them coming forward.*
  5. Cultural competency needs to be part of all future training.
  6. Consideration needs to be taken as to the migrant nature of these communities.
  7. Internal capacity needs to be built for easier provision.

*The Domestic Abuse (DA) Commissioner (Nicole Jacobs) has suggested putting a firewall between immigration and reporting of DA.

Following feedback from the women involved in the co-production of this project, the next step is to promote the videos using stickers with QR codes. which will then instantly link to a web page with the videos and referral forms in the various languages.

International Women’s Group (
YouTube: What Is Domestic Abuse? A Multilingual Animation Series – YouTube

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