Domestic Violence...a 'hidden' issue?
Violence against women is far too often, a 'hidden issue'...particularly in rural areas. A report recently commissioned by the National Federation of Woman's Institutes shows that although women in rural and urban areas were equally likely to be victims of violence, rural residents were less likely to think it was happening in their communities.
The Federation is calling for a Government campaign to raise awareness of the problem and for GP's in rural areas to be trained to spot victims of violence.
More than 5,000 women were surveyed and more than half had experience of some form of violence or abuse! An abused 'spouse' is often the victim of a complex psychological 'trap' created over a period of time. The 'abuser' is able to keep the whole family 'prisoners' in a 'vice-like' grip of fear and unfounded self-blame through a form of 'brainwashing'. The cycle of domestic violence can result in the children growing up in an abusive household, displaying and/or perpetrating the same violence or even 'bullying' at school.
Nationally around 35% of all annual Homicides are due to 'fatal domestic abuse'...often a 'knife' has been used. But, in truth the fatalities due to domestic violence can be through many forms of violence, from sytematic severe beatings to the use of various weapons.
Changing Perceptions...there are many misconceptions surrounding domestic violence and the Government is now looking to educate, as well as tackle violence and all forms of aggression against women. With this in mind the Government launched the biggest ever consultation in order to tackle violence aginst women and girls, which includes a review into police powers for dealing with serial perpetrators of domestic violence and a review of the sexualisation of teenage girls.
Entitled 'Together We Can End Violence against Women and Girls Strategy'...the consultation outlines all the steps the Government has taken to date to tackle violence against women in all forms. The document looks at what can be done in order to challenge attitudes and misconceptions, and help to make women and girls feel safer. A new opinion poll conducted by Ipsos Mori shows that more than one-third of respondents are aware of a woman who has been the victim of violence by a man she knows. Furthermore, just over two in five respondents believe that a woman should be held either partly or fully responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped, if she was flirting heavily with the man before the attack? As part of the consultation, events will take place in 40 towns and cities across England. Key consultation questions:-
a) How to we prevent violence against women from happening in the first place?
b) How do we reduce women's disproportionate fear of violence and the disabling effect this has on many lives?
c) How do we help friends, family, employers and public services to identify early signs of violence as soon as possible and do something about it?
d) How do we make sure that women who seek specialist help, or need to leave home to start a new life, receive a consistent level of local support wherever they live?
e) How do we protect and support the children who are growing up in violent households?
f) How do we build confidence in the Criminal Justice System to improve reporting?
g) How do we make sure that men who have attacked or abused already don't continue to do so?
Further Information: www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/domestic/index.html
During the early part of 2009 ACPO lead on Domestic Abuse, Brian Moore said..."One in five of all violent crimes reported are related to domestic abuse, while every year one in six of all murders in the UK are domestic violence-related Homicides. These statistics are horrific and the police service is committed to doing everything it can to protect and support victims and arrest perpetrators and put them before the Courts".
The Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act 2004 established a statutory basis for domestic homicide reviews. These reviews became Law on 13th April, 2011...7 years after being presented to Parliament as Section 9 of the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act. The aim of the reviews is for all agencies involved, to work together to identify the lessons that can be learned from fatal domestic abuse: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/DHR-guidance?view=Binary
Since 1999 an average of 126 people have been killed each year in England & Wales by current or former intimate partners....4 woman for every man! These disturbing numbers are recurring despite significant initiatives to combat them, such as standardised risk tools, multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACS) and independent domestic violence advocates (IDVAs). In around 50% of fatal domestic abuse cases those killed had failed to make contact with 'official agencies' for help. So, within communities we need to increase awareness of 'risk factors' and 'safe interventions'...sometimes, people get killed even after contacting official agencies. This is why Reviews are so important and approaching a Review with a 'no bame' approach does not mean 'no accountability!' Lessons must be learned if future lives are to be saved!
0808 2000 247 - Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in Partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge). In an emergency always dial 999.
Male Victims' Helpline 0808 8010 327 - www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Network for Surviving Stalking - www.nss.org.uk
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