What is Domestic Violence/Domestic Abuse?
Domestic violence or abuse is intentional and persistent abusive behaviour which is based on an unequal position of power and control. Domestic violence can include a range of behaviours used by one person to control another with whom they have or have had a close family intimate relationship.
Domestic violence can take on many forms, Physical, Psychological/Mental, Sexual, and Economic. Sometimes it could involve multiple abuse at the same time. Domestic violence often occurs over a period of time.
Domestic abuse can include forms of violent and controlling behaviour such as:
- Physical assault
- Sexual abuse
- Threats and intimidation
- Humiliating and controlling behaviour
- Withholding money
- Economic manipulation
- Belittling and constant unreasonable criticism
Victims of domestic violence will experience a range of emotions, including fear, reluctance, uncertainty, worry and stress. Domestic violence can impact upon a person’s self-esteem and confidence, all of which can make leaving an abusive relationship a daunting and frightening step.
Who experiences domestic violence/abuse?
Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. It occurs across all groups within society regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, wealth, or geographical origin. However, statistically the majority of victims of domestic violence are women and children. You shouldn’t allow yourself to feel like a failure or a weak person because you have experienced domestic abuse. This is called double victimisation first by the perpetrator and then by yourself. It can happen to anyone.
How common is domestic violence?
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) year ending March 2020, an estimated 5.5% of adults aged 16 to 74 years (2.3 million people) experienced domestic abuse in the last year.
Spotting the signs
Here are some of the signs of domestic abuse.
- Is your partner jealous and possessive?
- Is he charming one minute and abusive the next?
- Does he tell you what to wear, where to go, who to see?
- Does he constantly put you down?
- Does he play mind games and make you doubt your judgment?
- Does he control your money and what you spend it on?
- Does he pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to or in ways you don’t want to?
- Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making him angry?
- Does he monitor or track your movements or messages?
- Does he use anger and intimidation to frighten and control you?
- Does he make you feel guilty for speaking up or asking for basic things that you or your children need?
Can men be victims of domestic violence?
Whilst most statistics and research show women being the main victims of domestic abuse. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse.
For the year ending March 2019, the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) estimated that 1.6 million women and 786,000 men aged 16 to 741 years experienced domestic abuse in that year (Appendix Table 2a). This equates to a prevalence rate of approximately 7 in 100 women and 4 in 100 men.
What are the effects of domestic violence?
The effects of domestic violence vary from person to person. Each individual experiencing domestic abuse/violence deals with it and reacts differently.
Physical abuse is a much more obvious form of abuse. It includes signs of injury to the body e.g., cuts, bruises, broken bones, etc. The emotional aspect of abuse is however less obvious. You cannot see the emotional scars caused by abuse. Such emotional suffering can have devastating effects on a victim which are prevalent in both the short and long term. Victims of domestic violence will experience a range of emotions, including fear, confusion, uncertainty, lack of confidence, worry for their children, depression, instability, and anxiety all of which make it increasingly difficult to leave the relationship. Research has shown that domestic violence causes lasting damage to a victim’s physical and mental health, affecting all areas of their lives, including work, relationships, social life, confidence, and self-esteem etc. Recovering from the impact of domestic violence is a process which can be a long and painful journey.
Also invisible is the lasting impact it has on the children, their emotional stability, and their ability to trust and form positive relationships of their own.
Why don’t you just leave?
This is a common question asked of women who stay in abusive relationships. It is difficult to leave a non abusive relationship that is not working outlet alone an abusive one.
Leaving is an extremely difficult decision to make and a difficult process to go through. There are a number of reasons as to why it is so difficult for someone who is going through domestic abuse to leave the relationship. You may find it difficult to leave because you:
- feel frightened and uncertain about what the future will hold.
- feel frightened for the children and how they will cope without their father.
- feel it is in the children’s best interests to stay in the family home.
- feel ashamed and reluctant to tell or seek help due to the cultural and religious stigma of divorce and abuse.
- have such low confidence and self-esteem that making decisions is a confusing and difficult task.
- Will be isolated from family and friends and feel they have no one to turn to.
- Will be worried about financial security if they leave especially where the partner is the bread winner or financially controlling
- Do not have information on local DV services & support available to them if they leave.
- have received a negative response when they reached out to someone for support in the past. This can often be a family member or close friend.
- be too exhausted to take on any life changes or major decisions due to depressive state.
- still have feelings of love for their partner and fond memories of how things used to be. Such women do not realise they have a fantasy ideal of their life and not living in reality.
- hope and believe that things will get better.
Leaving is not just a one-day event that happens in a victim’s life it is a process that takes a long time to overcome. It is best done in stages. It starts with leaving mentally and emotionally in your mind then physically untangling/unravelling joint things like assets, children, etc. Being prepared financially and emotionally is essential.
Unfortunately leaving does not always stop the violence and many women are still exposed to abuse when they leave the relationship. Research has shown that women can be at higher risk during the initial months after moving out of the family home. The British Crime Survey found that 37% of women who had left their abusive partner reported that the violence continued.
Does domestic violence affect children?
Yes! Domestic violence affects children in different ways. Children surrounded by domestic violence can pick up that behaviour as well as become a victim of the abuse themselves. In some cases, they lose their ability to trust others and to form healthy positive relationships.
What are the effects of domestic violence on children?
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you may have probably tired to shield your children from the worst of it. But it is important to know that children will sooner or later become much more aware of the domestic abuse happening within their own homes.
According to the NSPCC 1 in 5 children are exposed to domestic abuse.
Children that are affected by domestic abuse earlier in their lives are 4 times more likely to go on and experience or commit domestic abuse later in life. Further studies have also concluded that children affected by domestic abuse are at greater risk of falling into substance abuse, juvenile pregnancy, and criminal behaviour than those raised in homes without violence. (Atkins, V. 2018)
For children to be able to cope with the impact of domestic abuse they tend to adopt different coping strategies. There are some signs your child may show as an effect of domestic abuse are:
- Wetting the bed
- Withdrawal /disengaging with normal emotions
- Abnormalities around food (Eating too much or eating too less)
- Wanting to overachieve or under achieving.
These are just some of the more noticeable signs of the effects of domestic abuse, the signs can vary and be different for each child.
How can I keep my child safe?
There are number of different steps you could take to help your child.
- Talk to your children: You can keep your children safe by keeping them informed of what is going on according to their age-appropriate level of understanding. By creating a healthy and safe relationship with them, they will be able to open up and talk to you about their feelings. Children are silent witnesses and what they witness can create lifelong confusion. Talk to them and communicate reasons for your decision making regularly.
- Understand that abusers can use your children against you: this is part of the power play of the perpetrator. You can keep your children safe by understanding the behaviours that perpetrators may adopt to manipulate/use your children in an abusive situation. This can be confusing for children who are sometimes forced to take sides but try as much as possible to remain neutral when relating to your children about their father.
- Get help…. Your local social care support will help you with action plans towards safeguarding. Victims of domestic abuse may find this useful in helping them understand the depth of the abuse and take decisive actions to move away from an abusive environment.
- Report the abuse: You can report to the police, to your GP or to your child’s school.
How can I help/support someone who I suspect is going through domestic abused?
Often, we suspect someone close to us may be going through domestic abuse this could be family members, friends or even our own neighbours. Sometimes the individuals may want to keep their abuse private or may feel embarrassed/ashamed by it. Always be respectful towards their wishes. Something you could do is to listen to them without judging. Find out what they want to do/what they want to happen.
If you suspect the abuse is getting too violent you could yourself, call 999 or 111 for help. Another step you could take is inform the individual who is being abused of the different services that are available to help them.
How can I support a friend, family member or a neighbour who is experiencing domestic violence/abuse?
It is important to remember that to leave a domestic relationship takes courage and strength. This needs to be the victim’s choice. You could communicate with the victim and let them know you are there if they need support to make the decision to leave.
If you suspect that the abuse is getting severely violent, and an intervention needs to be made you can contact a domestic abuse helpline service nationally or locally or call 999 if its too dangerous for the victim to stay.
Below are a few steps you could take to help your family, friend, or neighbour:
- Be there – let them know you are there for them no matter what. Keep lines of communication open and ensure they can contact you at any time.
- Do not judge – don’t get frustrated with them if they are not ready to leave the abusive situation. The decision to leave has to come from them. Be there to support them with their choices.
- Reassure – they may feel they are to blame for the violence. Reassure your friend that it is not their fault and they do not deserve to be treated like this.
- Get support – find out what help is available for them and share this. Encourage your friend to access support that is available. Ensure they have emergency phone numbers and contact details of organisations that can help. You or the person going through abuse could 99 or a 24-hour domestic service helpline.
- Talk through options – talk to them about the abuse and explore options and choices. Try not to be judgemental if they are not ready to do anything yet.
- Stay safe & discrete – make sure they and their children remain safe and keep all sources of help confidential and discrete so that the perpetrator does not find out that the victim is seeking help.
I am scared my family will stop talking to me.
It is everyone’s basic human right to feel safe and secure. We cannot guarantee your family will be happy with you if you decide to leave a marriage/ intimate relationship. However, your safety and happiness your family should be a priority. Family members should not use family honour, family respect or family shame as an excuse or reason you should stay in an abusive relationship.
Does Culture, Religion or Tradition Justify domestic abuse?
As far as we know, there is NO Religion, tradition or culture that justifies domestic abuse as being acceptable or right. It is both morally and religiously wrong therefore, if you or someone you suspect is being abused in the name of religion or culture, this is incorrect, and you need to get help. Your culture, religion or beliefs are never more important than your mental health and happiness. They should not contradict each other.
Is my safety guaranteed if I leave my partner?
We cannot for say sure that your safety will be guaranteed, however there are a number of different organisations/public and charitable services that aim to protect the victims of domestic abuse. There also laws and legislations that have been put in place in the UK to allow victims safety to be assured. We can say that the safety of victims and their children is a number one priority over anything else in a domestic abuse situation.
Where can you get help?
Everyone has the right to a violent free and safe life. It is important to remember there is a lot of help available for women going through domestic violence
If it is an emergency situation 999 must be called, this is only in an emergency situation.
Discrete ways to report domestic abuse.
Crime stoppers- independent charity.
Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline,
run by Refuge
0808 200 0247
Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people)
0800 999 5428
Live Fear Free helpline (Wales)
0808 80 10 800
Men’s Advice Line
0808 801 0327
Rape Crisis (England and Wales)
0808 802 9999
0808 802 4040
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline
0800 027 1234
Scottish Women’s Aid
0131 226 6606
Women’s Aid Federation (Northern Ireland)
0800 917 1414
Solace Women’s Aid
0808 802 5565
Handbook- Women’s aid
Has online chat service
Each borough also has their own reporting of domestic abuse help line.
If you need help, advice or are concerned for somebody else contact:
- Call: Reach Out on 0800 1456410
- Email: [email protected]
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm excluding bank holidays
For more information about Reach Out and being at risk of domestic abuse during this pandemic, please see Reach Out.
Out of hours
- Call: Refuge on 0808 2000 247
- Opening hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
ADANNA Women’s support group:
ADANNA Women’s support group is a women’s cantered charity based in Ilford they offer support to women for a number of different issues this includes help and support to overcome domestic violence issues.
To contact for non-emergency, you could fill in this form (Follow Link)
Nia Ending Violence against women
Nia runs services for women and girls who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including prostitution. We offer community-based services in Hackney, Haringey, Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Havering, Newham, and Brent. To make a referral a special such as GP, police or Schools may make a referral.
Phone: The Emma Project: 07590 712 872
Email: [email protected]
Anchal women’s Aid.
Anchal women’s Aid based in Newham is a service that provides help for victims of domestic violence. referrals via the police, GP and schools can be made by going on their website or you could refer yourself by clicking the link below
London Black Women Project.
LBWP is a small project based in Newham, their aim is to provide legal support and counselling for women who require it. they do not accept third party requests. It is easy to contact them.
Telephone: +44 208 472 0528
Email: [email protected]
Hestia – Newham Community Based Domestic and Sexual Violence
We support adults and children in crisis across London. We campaign and advocate nationally on the issues that affect them.
Free and confidential support available for domestic or sexual violence.
Telephone: 0808 196 1482
Email: [email protected]
BARKING & DAGENHAM
One to one confidential, non-judgemental support and advocacy to all people living or working in Barking and Dagenham experiencing domestic abuse. This includes support for children, refuge accommodation and sanctuary schemes.
Barking and Dagenham Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence Advocacy Service
This is a SHORT-TERM service provided for women and young individuals going through domestic violence service.
Phone: 020 8591 3498
Woman’s Trust East
Independent, confidential, free services provided by women, for women who are or have been affected by domestic violence. Including one-to-one counselling, representation, support groups and workshops. Lines are open from 9.30am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Telephone: 020 7034 0303
Myths about domestic abuse.
There are many myths and lies about domestic abuse. This creates a negative stereotype of the survivors. It tends to do more harm and often places blame on the victims of domestic abuse rather than the perpetrators.
These myths must be debunked as they cause more stress those who are trying to get help and advice. Myths allow a reinforcement of the idea that domestic abuse is a private matter between couples which can lead to the victims to feeling further isolated and ultimately stop them from leaving an abusive relationship.
It can’t be that bad if she stayed put. Why didn’t she leave sooner?
Relationships and domestic abuse are often complicated, and women may stay for a number of reasons which includes, fear of the unknown, children’s instability, security, unaware of her rights and options, etc. When a woman does finally decide to leave, this is when she is most at risk and vulnerable.
If I Fight back, I am just as bad as he/she is!
Domestic abuse is about power and control issues. Victims who fight back are usually defending themselves and their children. And many do not fight back because of the fear of further abuse or fear of being seen as a bad person or even as an abuser.
He/she has not hit me, so it’s not domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse is not only physical violence it includes emotional, sexual, financial, psychological abuse. Survivors have documented that overcoming psychological/emotional abuse is much more difficult than overcoming the physical scars.
It is a sin to leave a marriage even if your partner is abusive. It is just a family argument
It is important to know and believe that domestic abuse is never just a family argument. If a victim is in fear and feels threatened by their partner as they have all the control and power which they are using negatively. It is abuse and leaving this environment is never a sin. In fact, it is a sin to be an abuser. As a victim you have done wrong.
It is the western culture that has made her lose her manners. She needs to be taught discipline and respect according to our culture and respect for tradition.
This is completely false and designed to keep you submissive to hostile and negative regimes and to lose your confidence in yourself so as to maintain control over you.