Complaints about Domestic Abuse to Helplines and reports to the Police about it increased during the pandemic in 2020/21. DA affects men as well as women, though roughly three times as many women are victims of such abuse.
On 28th April from 9.30-2.45 60 people listened to what the Freedom Programme run by Oasis can do to help women victims of DA. Janine Cole and Patricia Guerrero led the audience through the elements of a course that helps victims rebuild their lives after they’ve experienced DA. Some victims spoke of the abuse they’d suffered and how the course and those at Oasis helped them recover. For 25 years Caroline Edwards has run Oasis in Cobham and hundreds of victims of DA are very grateful to her and the team she leads.
Recent statistics indicate the shocking size of the problem.
In the UK a woman is killed by her partner or ex-partner every 3 days. 149 women were killed in 2018, 61% of them by their current or past partner. In the first 28 weeks of 2021 81 women were killed.
In 2019 75% of the victims of a domestic homicide were women, 25% were men.
In mid-May 2020 there was a 12% increase in DA cases and between April and June 2020 there was a 65% increase in calls to the National DA Hotline. This was during the first lockdown because of Covid.
Last year across England and Wales nearly 2m women and 600,000 men reported having experienced DA.
In Britain a woman is assaulted in her home every 6 seconds.
A third of all women experience DA in their lifetime.
Police across Britain receive a DA complaint every minute.
DA is all about power and control, which can be pursued in various ways. The different types of abuser were described: the Persuader who threatens or cries in order to control. The Headworker who puts a person down by insults. The sexual controller. The Jailer who prevents friendships and contact with others. The King of the Castle who treats his partner as a slave and controls the finances. The Liar who minimises violence, and blames drink or drugs for his behaviour. The Bully who glares, threatens violence, shouts and sulks.
There was a detailed consideration of the Head Worker, the person who belittles or insults his partner and believes he’s cleverer than her and that she should be servile.
There are various reasons why women don’t leave an abusive partner: because of financial needs, having nowhere to go, a lack of self-esteem or of the courage to leave, or for concerns about the risks of further and more serious violence.
62% of children living with DA are directly harmed by the perpetrator of the abuse. The impact of abuse on children is enormous. What they hear or see affects their life and their happiness as young persons. They grow up with an unhealthy role model. Living in an environment of violence and abuse, of coercion and control, distorts a child’s view of life, of what is normal behaviour. They can be scarred for life, and their own personal relationships as adults may be adversely affected.
As one member of the audience put it “this was a challenging course”. It made one think about one’s own behaviour. Many men have been used to being regarded as the dominant partner, expected to make most of the decisions in the relationship and to be waited on. They may have seen their mothers do that for their fathers and have therefore expected it for themselves. That can be the way to coercive behaviour and dominant control. Many women will not have challenged this male behaviour until fairly recent times. The violent, abusive or coercive control and domination of another human being is unhealthy and the more people realise this and learn about how and why it can happen, the greater will be the chances of safer and better relationships.