With a background in Adult and Children’s Social Care, Mandy Miranda, VR Lead Trainer and Facilitator at Antser, discusses how virtual reality can tackle domestic abuse for children and young people
By Mandy Miranda, VR Lead Trainer and Facilitator, Antser
Before becoming the VR Lead Trainer and Facilitator at Antser, Mandy worked in Adult and Children’s Social Care as a social worker for 30 years and helped victims, survivors and perpetrators throughout her career. From being a part of a Mental Health Team, Addiction Services, Homelessness, Children’s Services, Family Centres and Adult Teams, Mandy has always strived to deliver better outcomes.
For the 12-month period to year ending March 2020, the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that an estimated 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year (1.6 million women and 757,000 men), a slight but non-significant decrease from the previous year. With a 7% increase in police recorded offences flagged as domestic abuse-related between March and June 2020, compared with the same period in the previous year, domestic abuse is an ongoing issue across the UK.
For far too long the myth that domestic abuse is a private matter has been accepted across society. Domestic abuse is a crime that crosses all genders, cultures, sexualities, abilities and disabilities, age groups and socio-economic groups.
At Antser, we strive to secure better outcomes for children across the country using transformational technology. This past year, Antser have been working with several organisations to achieve this, one of them being the Metropolitan Police. Recognising the need for frontline officers to better their understanding on the impact of domestic abuse on children, young people and survivors, Antser partnered with the Met Police allowing officers to walk in the footsteps of children who had witnessed or experienced domestic abuse.
Antser delivered a VR pilot training programme to 48 front line officers across London’s Met Police Service to assist with its Domestic Abuse Improvement Programme. Officers were show two immersive VR experiences – the first from the point of view of a baby in utero and the second highlighted manipulation of police officers by a perpetrator, minimising the impact of the abuse and its impact on the child. These immersive VR experiences were used to simulate real-life situations, thereby raising awareness, increasing empathy, and challenging behavioural norms.
The outcomes achieved gave officers a deeper understanding of the child’s perspective, officers considered alternative ways to approach their work leading to increased understanding of the impacts of domestic abuse. VR training offers a different perspective of how much perpetrators behaviour, responses and decisions affect vulnerable children.
Through our work, we know first-hand that perpetrators can change their behaviour using VR. As part of our work with London Borough of Redbridge, our Virtual Reality technology was successful with perpetrators of domestic abuse to increase behaviour change and allow perpetrators of DA to experience their behaviour through the eyes of their children and partners.
Evidence from this partnership identified that 85% of the perpetrators who took part in the VR study said it made them think differently about their behaviour. In the 14-months following their participation, 100% of the perpetrators had not been involved in any incidents relating to domestic abuse.
In addition to helping vulnerable members of society, Antser has taken a proactive and supportive approach to enhance the understanding of staff members surrounding this topic, and empowering them to empathise with victims in the workplace.
Acknowledging we all have a responsibility to provide a safe and effective work environment, at Antser, the managerial team have recently undergone training as a part of their duty of care to employees with the aim of ensuring that all staff are trained and prepared in identifying the early signs of abuse amongst colleagues, in order to provide the support network they need to overcome challenging situations and rebuild their lives.
Here at Antser, we are currently running a domestic abuse awareness campaign to help raise awareness as we believe this is a social issue and that everyone has a role to play by showing the devastating impact domestic abuse has. As an organisation that believes we have a collective responsibility to speak out against it, only then can we tackle it effectively.
To find out more about Antser’s Virtual Reality Programme, click here.