Violence Against Women and Girls
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic Abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence. Often carried out by a partner or ex-partner, but it could also possibly be a family member or carer. It is very common.
Domestic Abuse can happen to anyone at any time of life. If something doesn’t feel right in your relationship, it probably isn’t. If your behaviour has changed because of how your partner treats you or your children, this can be the sign of an unhealthy or controlling relationship.
Children are often said to ‘witness’ domestic violence, but research shows that they experience this just as much as adults. Witnessing domestic abuse is really distressing for a child or young person.
Children often see the abuse, hear it from another room, see a parent’s injuries, witness the distress afterwards or be physically hurt in trying to stop the abuse. There are measures in place throughout schools across the region to help. This is referred to as Operation Encompass.
Any domestic violence incident that the police attend and there are children present – the child’s school is automatically informed. This is in order to make allowances for the child the following day at school.
Domestic abuse can include, but is not
limited to, the following:
Coercive control is when a person with whom you are personally connected, repeatedly behaves in a way which makes you feel controlled, dependent, isolated or scared. (a pattern of intimidation, degradation, isolation and control with the use or threat of physical or sexual violence).
The following types of behaviour are common examples of coercive control:
Isolating you from your friends and family, controlling how much money you have and how you spend it, monitoring your activities and your movements, repeatedly putting you down, calling you names or telling you that you are worthless, threatening to harm or kill you or your child, threatening to publish information about you or to report you to the police or the authorities for example social services, damaging your property or household goods and / or forcing you to take part in criminal activity or child abuse. It can also involve something called ‘gaslighting’, this is a tactic used to manipulate another person and make them question their own sanity.
Psychological and/or emotional abuse
Emotional or psychological abuse can be either verbal or non verbal. This kind of domestic abuse chips away at the confidence and independence of the victim to make them compliant and limit their ability to leave their abuser.
Emotional abuse can include verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming, isolation, intimidation, threats of violence and controlling behaviour. This can sometimes try to be passed off as ‘joking’ or ‘sarcasm’ but it can feel very dismissive and demeaning.
Physical or sexual abuse
Physical abuse is one of the main types of abuse related to domestic violence. It comes in many forms and can include punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning and strangling.
Rape and sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships. This is because the victim’s right to consent is likely to be ignored. Any situation where someone is forced to take part in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse.
Financial or economic abuse
Economic or financial abuse limits the victim’s ability to get help. The abuser controls finances; withholds money or credit cards; makes someone unreasonably account for the money they spend; exploits assets; withholds basic necessities; prevents someone from working and deliberately runs up debts. The victim of this abuse can be coerced into applying for benefits or payday loans. It can also involve the abuser forcing someone to work against their will or sabotaging the victim’s job. Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse. It is a crime and should be reported to the police.
Harassment and stalking
Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered and harassed. For stalking to be reported this behaviour only needs to happens two or more times, directed at or towards you by another person, which causes you to feel alarmed or distressed or to fear that violence might be used against you.
Find out more:
National stalking helpline - 0808 802 0300
Stalking Paladin - National Stalking Advocacy Service: 020 3866 4107
Online or digital abuse including revenge porn
Digital abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. In most cases, this type of abuse is emotional and/or verbal and though it is perpetuated online, it has a strong impact on a victim’s real life.
Revenge porn is when someone shares sexually explicit images or videos of another person without their consent, and with the aim of causing them distress or harm. It refers to materials that are shared both online and offline and includes uploading images to the internet and social media channels, sharing by text and e-mail, and showing someone a physical or electronic image or video.
The crime of grooming could also come under this category. This is the building of an emotional connection or relationship with the intent to exploit a person. It can involve the buying of gifts to win over a person.
Find out more:
Here are some organisations that can help:
Wearside Women in Need (WWIN) 0191 565 8877
Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (run by Refuge)
Women’s Aid – An organisation that is working towards ending Domestic Abuse against women and children. This organisation offers online chat and email facilities to connect with a domestic violence support worker who can listen and offer help and advice. If you decide to leave Women’s Aid can help you with a safety plan.
The Freedom Programme
Freedom Programme is a domestic violence programme which was created by Pat Craven. The Freedom Programme examines the roles played by attitudes and beliefs on the actions of abusive men and the responses of victims and survivors.
The aim is to help them to make sense of and understand what has happened to them, instead of the whole experience just feeling like a horrible mess. The Freedom Programme also describes in detail how children are affected by being exposed to this kind of abuse and very importantly how their lives are improved when the abuse is removed.
Forced marriage & Honour Based Violence
Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights, a form of violence against women and men, where it affects children, child abuse and where it affects those with disabilities abuse of vulnerable people.
You may face physical pressure to marry (for example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure, you could be made to feel like you’re bringing shame on your family.
Honour based abuse is a collection of practices used to control behaviour within families in order to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and/or community by breaking their honour code. You may be made to feel guilty if this is happening to you.
Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but there's no medical reason for this to be done.
FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. It's illegal in the UK and is child abuse. It's very painful and can seriously harm the health of women and girls. It can also cause long-term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health.
Forced Marriage Unit
Telephone: 020 7008 0151
Halo Project - 01642 683 045
Karma Nirvana 0800 5999 247
Prostitution, human trafficking, child abuse, pornography, sex trafficking and exploitation
Child sex trafficking can include many forms of commercial sexual exploitation such as prostitution, pornography, and child sex tourism. Children who fall prey to these forms of sexual exploitation are of particular concern because of their vulnerable status and the impact these experiences have on their development.
Helpline Tel - 0808 800 5000
Bright Sky App
Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app, launched in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, providing support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know. Please only download the Bright Sky app if it is safe to do so and you are sure that your mobile phone is not being monitored.
- Available in 4 languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish.
- A unique UK-wide directory of specialist domestic abuse support services with contact details.
- A secure My Journal tool to record incidents of abuse via text, audio, video or photo form, without any of the content being saved on the device itself.
- Questionnaires to assess the safety of a relationship, plus a section on dispelling myths around domestic and sexual abuse.
- Links to further resources and information on topics around domestic abuse.
What to do if you’re worried about someone
If you’re worried that a friend or someone in your family might be in an unhealthy, controlling or abusive relationship, the best way to get support is by phone or email. If you suspect someone you know is suffering emotional or physical DOMESTIC ABUSE call 0800 066 5555 or call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 for independent and confidential advice.
If you think you are harming someone else:
Respect helpline: 0808 802 4040 (for anyone worried that they may be harming someone else)
This scheme allows partners to find out from the Police if their partners have been involved or have a history of any incident involving domestic violence in the past.
Following police checks if there is any record of abusive behaviour in the past or any reason that the person requesting the information could come to harm or be at risk, then the police would consider sharing this information with you.
The information disclosed is done so in order to give you the opportunity to make an informed decision on whether to continue in the relationship.
Police will ensure that further help and support is available should you wish to leave this relationship.
Any information you receive shall be given to help protect you from domestic violence.
Who can apply?
- You can make an enquiry about a partner if you feel you are at risk
- Any concerned party can make an application if they have concerns about your safety. This could be parents, friends or neighbours.
- However the information is only ever disclosed to the person in the relationship OR the information is passed on to somebody who is in a position to protect you from the abuse.
- If a third party applies the information will not be disclosed to them.
How can you make an application?
Go to your local police station, dial 101 non emergency services or speak to Womens Aid organisation.
A link to some of the Myths surrounding domestic violence:
There are many myths surrounding domestic violence and violence experienced by women and girls. By believing them we allow the violence to continue.
Myth 1: Alcohol and drugs make men violent
Blaming drugs and alcohol for violence is an excuse, this help deny responsibility for ones actions. Many men who drink too excess never lay a finger on a women.
Myth 2: It only happens in poor families on council estates
How much money you have and where you live does not dictate if you experience domestic violence or not. Abuse victims come from all walks of life just the same as abusers. Status or job title do not differentiate.
Myth 3: More women would leave if the abuse was that bad
It can be extremely difficult to leave an abusive partner. They often threaten to kill or injure their partner or children. Victims may think it is safer to stay.
There are lots of practicalities to consider when leaving including where one could go to? How can they finance this? Will they be safe?
English not being a first language can present a barrier too and the shame and guilt women from ethnic minorities can feel too.
Victims of abuse can feel ashamed and their self esteem can be so low they do not know who or where to go for help.
Ultimately, they may hope that their partner will change and they are emotionally invested in their relationship.
Myth 4: Abusers grow up in violent homes
This is not true. It can sometime mean the opposite as children from this type of background know what it is like to liv with this experience.
Abusers learn to be violent from the society in which they grow up. Inequality between the sexes can lead to exploitation of men’s power over women.
Some people will use their childhood experience of domestic violence to hide from taking responsibility for their own actions.
Myth 5: Some women like violence
No women enjoys violence, most victims live in fear. This is a way of victim blaming.
Myth 6: Women ask for it. They deserve what they get
No woman deserves to be beaten, again this is an excuse to not take responsibility of ones actions.
Myth 7: Abusive men have a mental illness
Lots of men with mental illness are not abusers. This is not an excuse. If this were true they would abuse friends, colleagues or other family members.
Myth 8: He only hit her because he was under stress
Women can experience stress too and they will not abuse or beat their partners.