As part of a project close to my heart, I am researching Domestic Violence. It is not only a part of my job to safeguard people, but as I have previously experienced it and someone close to me has also told me her story of domestic violence I am going to be writing about that today. I have done a lot of research into it and some of the facts and figures I have discovered are honestly heartbreaking, but I feel like it is something that needs to be spoken about more and something people need to be aware of so you can come forward if you’re in a situation similar to anything I describe in this post.
So firstly the Home Office definition of Domestic Violence is as follows:
Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are of have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Physical abuse includes:
- Tying up
- Throwing things
- Using objects as weapons
- Genital mutilation
Physical effects are often in areas of the body that are covered and hidden.
Sexual abuse includes any situation in which a person is forces to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom they also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence.
Psychological abuse includes:
- Isolating a person from friends and family
- Denying abuse
- Treating them as an inferior
- Threatening to harm children or take them away
- Forced marriage
Financial abuse includes:
- Not allowing a person to work or choose their own career
- Undermining efforts to find work or study
- Rigidly controlling their finances
- Restricting them to an allowance
- Withholding money or credit/debit cards
- Asking for an explanation of how every penny is spent
- Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medication, shelter)
- Stealing from them or taking their money
- Not paying bills
Emotional aims to chip away at a persons feelings of self-worth and independence, this includes:
- Name calling
- Undermining confidence
- Making racist remarks
- Making a person feel unattractive
- Calling them stupid or useless
- Controlling behaviour
- Additionally throwing threats of physical violence or repercussions if you don’t do what they want
Domestic abuse occurs across the whole of society, regardless of race, age, religion, sexuality etc. It really can happen to anyone in any scenario. Here are some facts and figures I have found:
- On average, 2 women a week, in the UK alone, are killed by a male partner or former partner; this contributes to around one third of all female homicide victims.
- 20% of women have been victims of sexual abuse since the age of 16.
- 75% of domestic violence cases result in physical injury or mental health consequences to women.
- 30% of domestic violence cases start during pregnancy.
- 75-90% of domestic violence incidents happen with a child/children in the same or next room.
- The cost of physical healthcare treatment resulting from domestic violence (including hospital, GP, ambulance and prescriptions) is £1,220,247,000 per year.
- 54% of rapes in the UK are committed by a woman’s current or former partner.
- The police in the UK receive one call to stop domestic violence every minute.
All of the above facts can be found on the Woman’s Aid website.
A couple other interesting facts are that 32% of women who have ever experienced domestic violence did so 4,5 or more times and 11% of men who have ever experienced domestic violence did so 4,5 or more times. (Ref: Walby + Allen, 2004)
Now onto the effects of domestic violence on adults. Firstly the physical effects:
- Recurrent sexually transmitted infections
- Broken bones
- Burn or stab wounds
- Gynaecological problems
- General poor health
- Poor nutrition
- Chronic pain
- Maternal deth
- Premature birth
- Self-harming behaviour
But of course, not all domestic abuse effects can be seen physically, in fact the list of psychological and/or behavioural effects is longer, they include:
- Increasing likelihood of misusing drugs, alcohol or prescribed anti-depressants
- Poor mental health
- Wanting to or actually committing suicide
- Sleep distrubances
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Loss of self confidence
- Feelings of isolation
- Low self-worth
- Panic or anxiety attacks
- Eating disorders
So many people suffer domestic violence in silence because they’re too scared to come forward and talk about it, from personal experience I understand how hard it is and how scary it is. You think people will judge you, you think it’ll make things worse, you think people won’t believe you, you think it’ll make you seem weak. So many thoughts rush through your head and you decide actually, no I won’t tell anyone. You believe them when they say it ‘won’t happen again’. You believe that they ‘didn’t mean it’ because that’s what they told you. You believe that they’ll ‘change’ like they say you do, but then you end up in the same pattern and the same cycle over and over again and each time you’re taken in by the words they say. But if there is one thing I cannot stress enough it is that you need to speak out. You need to say something because if you don’t, one day it could go too far and it might be too late like it was for Linah Keza or Julie Sahin or even Sashana Roberts.
Domestic violence can be a taboo subject, people thinking you’re saying it for attention, people judging you, people saying you’re lying or making it up or it’s ‘in your head’ but that is not the case. If you feel you’re in a situation classed as violent, whether that be physically, emotionally, financially or anything I have described in this post, speak out. Talk to a friend, a parent, a family member, your doctor, speak to someone, because the brutal reality is, if it goes too far, you could end up dead. And if it isn’t you who ends up dead, it could be the next person they start a relationship with, or as some of the articles I linked above show, it could be someone’s child that gets killed. Innocent people lose their lives almost daily, I mean 2 women per week in the UK alone are killed by their partner or ex partner and 54% of rapes are by a partner or ex partner those statistics shocked me and upset me because it’s not something we hear about on mainstream news and it should be. We should be talking about it and making more women aware that there is help out there before it becomes too late for them.
Here are a few links of some charities that do amazing work and if you want more information or you need help then definitely check them out:
Men’s Advice Line
The Hide Out
Another point I want to make, is safeguarding. In the job I do, I have to keep safeguarding at the top of my mind on a daily basis, if you don’t know what safeguarding is here is the definition: Safeguarding means protecting people’s health, well being and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. If you know someone or suspect someone is in a violent relationship, say something, even if it’s not your job to do so. It’s my job to report it to the authorities and I’m not telling you to call the police if your friend has a bruised arm or something, I’m saying have that conversation. If your friend has continuously got bruises or is continuously panicking when their partner calls or messages them or they’re just not themselves, ask them if they’re okay, tell them you’re there for them, make them feel secure that they can open up to you and you won’t judge them but you’ll help them. By having that simple conversation, you could find out it’s nothing and that they’re clumsy and bang into the desk at work daily or you could find out they are in fact being abused and they need help to get out of that situation. It’s hard to judge a scenario and know when to speak out, but sometimes you have to take that risk because it could result in you saving a life simply by asking someone if everything is okay.
Recently, someone very close to me spoke out and came forward after years of abuse and I felt horrible, I felt ashamed that I hadn’t picked up on it, but that is one thing I realised when I experienced it myself, you become very good at hiding what you’re going through, especially if you live with that person, nobody will know what happens behind closed doors if you don’t tell them or show them. I am 100% against abuse, whether it be to animals, children, to woman or to men, abuse is not okay, emotionally, physically or anything, it is never okay.
I find posts like this so hard to write because it really hits me when I research facts and figures just how horrible it can be and how bad things can get for people. I have listed some charities above which are good for women, men and children who have been or are being effected by violence and abuse and I urge anyone who is reading this to take a look. If it does effect you, seek help and if it doesn’t, take a read and find out more because one day it could effect you or someone you know and by doing that little bit of reading and research it could save a life.
Thank you for reading.