Domestic violence is everywhere: it affects rich and poor, young and old. It is subtle and terrifying. Some victims will suffer psychological and physical abuse for years before they seek help, yet help is easily available
I was in training this month to discover more about domestic violence. I learnt not only about the slaps and punches, the threats and mood swings, but other quieter methods of abuse – isolation (removing their phone and access to money), imprisonment in the home 24/7, humiliating or degrading comments in front of others – and all with their children watching or listening.
The piece that will stay with me forever is a child, perhaps an 8-year-old, on the phone to emergency services. Through tears and panic, she tells the operator that her stepdad is hurting her mum. But the screams really start as the perpetrator starts hurting her little sister and the baby. It was hard to hear. (Luckily the brave girl’s call saved them all).
Imagine how harrowing it is to be a witness or caught up in domestic violence as a child and carry that forward into your adult life.
So here are the stats: high-risk victims put up with domestic abuse for an average of 2.6 years before they seek help.
Domestic abuse costs Britain £15.7 BILLION a year.
And it affects women and girls of every age, from the infant placed into an arranged marriage (yes, a three-year-old) to the 72 year old woman who’s husband kept a “mistake book” to record what he considered her wrong-doings and punished her by hosing her with cold water.
But there is help for Domestic Abuse victims
- The one stop shop for help in the UK is on 0207 801 1777.
- Did you know that there is a new Controlling or Coercive Behaviour law? It stops a personally connected perpetrator, threatening, trying to isolate or control another. More details here:
- Clare’s Law is a domestic violence disclosure scheme where anyone can request a background check on a person they believe is violent or abusive. More here: https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/daa/domestic-abuse/af/clares-law/
- And, thinking practically, the wonderful Dog’s Trust charity will foster the dog of a person going into a refuge, to flee domestic violence. http://www.dogstrustfreedomproject.org.uk/
And I leave you with this from YouTube: It is CCTV footage of a woman trying escape her violent boyfriend. He has held her captive for 48 hours, beating and threatening her. She convinces him that their dog needs to see a vet – and she takes her chance …