A STOURBRIDGE woman campaigning to give domestic abuse victims a voice says she has mixed views on new plans announced by the government today (Thursday) to help tackle the problem.

Sam Billingham, who founded Survivors of Domestic Abuse (SODA) after leaving an abusive relationship, was speaking to BBC Breakfast reporters this morning – flying the flag for women as part of International Women’s Day and giving her thoughts on new measures announced by Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd that will form part of the government’s draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

The government says it wants to hear from everyone who has been affected by abuse to ensure they get the landmark legislation right to try and put a stop to it once and for all.

Proposals include new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to better shield victims from further abuse by enabling courts to impose conditions on abusers such as compulsory alcohol treatment, attending a programme to address underlying attitudes or addictions, and using electronic tagging to monitor them.

Under the proposals, breaching the order would be a criminal offence.

Plans also include toughening sentencing for abusers when offences involve or affect a child and the creation of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to hold the government to account.

Sam, who was in an abusive relationship for three years before she fled, was invited onto the BBC Breakfast sofa to give her thoughts on the plans and she told presenters Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt the government’s plans “sound wonderful on paper” – adding: “If anything does come of this it will be amazing for those who are experiencing domestic abuse.

“Awareness if key, it’s vital. We’ve got many people, especially young people, who don’t know they’re in an abusive relationship so with more awareness they might leave the relationship sooner.”

She was sceptical about the plans to ban abusers from drinking alcohol – saying: “Not all abusers drink, many are professionals, doctors, you can’t label every abuser as a drinker - they’ll find a way round it; they’re very clever, very manipulative.”

As for the proposal to tag abusers, she said: “I just don’t think it’s strong enough to deter their behaviour.”

She welcomed the idea of a commissioner saying it would be great for suffers of domestic abuse to have “someone to speak up for them – because they’ve just lost all faith in the system” and she stressed that those affected, men and women, “need to be believed and heard more than anything”.

And she warned against cuts to schemes to provide safe houses - saying if sufferers of abuse haven’t “got a safe place to go to they have no other option but to stay in that relationship”.

To find out more about SODA go to https://sodahq.uk/ or Survivors of Domestic Abuse - SODA - Aftercare and Support on Facebook.