The term domestic abuse describes the actual or threatened physical, emotional, sexual and /or financial abuse of an individual by a partner, family member or someone with whom there is or has been a close relationship.

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Stalking is the unwanted pursuit of another person. By its nature, stalking is not a one-time event. The individual’s actions must be considered in connection with other actions to determine if someone is being stalked.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who can I contact for help?
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    Along with our own services which can be accessed through contacting us directly, other helpful resources include:

    • National Domestic Violence Helpline
      • 08082000247
      • They can help with finding a refuge and other advice
    • ‘Honour’ Helpline
      • 08005999247
      • They specialise in advice on forced marriage and ‘honour’ based violence.
    • Sexual Assault Referral Centres
      • This website will help you identify the nearest SARC centre for help and support.
    • Broken Rainbow
      • 08452604460
      • Broken Rainbow offers advice and support for LGBT victims of domestic abuse.
    • Respect
      • 08088010327
      • Respect offer help and support to male victims of domestic abuse. They also have a website with more information and resources – click here to be redirected.

     

     

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  • Do men experience domestic violence?
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    While it is recognised and documented in research and statistics that the majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women, it is also acknowledged and becoming increasingly recognised that men can experience violence from their female partners and in male gay relationships. It can be extremely difficult for men to acknowledge they are experiencing domestic violence and the stigma and shame attached to the issue can be a huge barrier in accessing support.

    Everyone has a basic human right to live a life free from violence and abuse. We can provide support to men who experience domestic violence and can also sign post to other agencies that can help. For many men, calling us is the first step they have made in talking to someone else about the problems they face, whether it is information or emotional support.

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  • What help is available?
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    Everyone has the right to live a life free from violence. It is important to remember, help is at hand. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence they can get help.

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  • How can I support a child or young person who is experiencing domestic violence?
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    If a child discloses domestic violence, it is vital that you respond in a way which is supportive and proactive.

    Explore feelings

    Find safe and confidential ways of asking children about their feelings and experiences.

    Listen and believe

    Listen to what they are saying and above all believe them.

    Safety plan

    Explore options for keeping safe and help them to develop a safety plan.

    Inform yourself and them

    Find out and know what help is available for them, and their mothers.

    Refer

    If you have child protection concerns, refer to your local Social Services Team.

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  • How can I support a neighbour who is experiencing domestic violence?
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    There may be many reasons you suspect this, you may have heard noises which have alarmed you or you may have seen incidents or injuries which have caused you suspicion. It can be very difficult to know what to do for the best in this situation, especially if you do not know the person well. You may feel reluctant to raise your concerns with your neighbour, you may feel it is none of your business, you may also fear that if you get involved it may exacerbate the situation.

    It is important to remember your neighbour may be in danger. If you hear an incident and think your neighbour and any children living in the household are in danger, you could contact the police. If you are concerned for the safety and well being of the children, you could consider contacting your local Social Services team.

    If you know your neighbour well, you could increase contact. You may find that as trust increases your neighbour may open up to you more. You can then encourage them to seek support in the ways outlined above.

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  • How can I support a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic violence?
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    If your friend has trusted in you and disclosed the violence they are experiencing, this is a very positive step. It can be difficult to know how to respond, especially if you are concerned your friend might be in danger. However, there are ways you can support your friend:

    • 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.
    • Don’t judge – don’t get frustrated with you friend 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 – your friend 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 your friend 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 your friend can contact the 24 Hour Live Fear free Helpline
    • Talk through options – talk to your friend about the abuse and explore options and choices. Try not to be judgemental if they are not ready to do anything yet.
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  • What are the effects on children?
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    Domestic violence can have adverse effects on children and young people and can be traumatic. It can impact upon all areas of life, including, health, education and the development of relationships. The effects of domestic violence on children are wide ranging and will differ for each child. A wealth of research has identified domestic violence as an underlying theme behind social issues such as, school dropout and exclusion, youth homelessness and young people engaging in risk taking behaviour. Children and young people have varying levels of resilience and all agencies that come into contact with children and young people who experience domestic violence, have a responsibility to build upon this resilience.

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  • Do children experience domestic violence?
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    Children and young people will experience domestic violence in many ways and every experience will be different. A study by Hughes (1992) of families, who had experienced domestic violence, showed that 90% of children were in the same or next room when the violence was occurring. Studies by Leighton (1989) showed that 68% of children from families where there was a history of domestic violence were witnesses. The Hidden Victims Study of 108 mothers attending NCH family centres who had experienced domestic violence showed that 90% of children were aware of the violence, 75% had witnessed violence, 10% had witnessed sexual violence, 99% of children had seen their mothers crying or upset as a result of the violence and more than half of the women (52%) said their children had seen the resulting injuries. The Hidden Victims Study also showed that more than a quarter (27%) of the children involved had been hit or physically abused by the violent partner.

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  • What is a MARAC meeting?
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    The MARAC is a victim-focused meeting where highest risk cases of domestic abuse are discussed and information is shared between criminal justice, health, child protection, housing practitioners, Women’s Aid as well as other specialists from the statutory and voluntary sectors. A MARAC ensures a victim of domestic violence gets the support needed for their safety and can also help to identify serial perpetrators of domestic violence. A safety plan for each victim is then created.

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  • Why don’t they leave?
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    Leaving an abusive relationship is a very long and difficult process. This is made difficult for a range of reasons. If someone is experiencing domestic violence, they may:

    • feel frightened and uncertain about what the future will hold
    • feel frightened for the children
    • feel it is in the children’s best interests to stay in the family home
    • feel ashamed and reluctant to tell or seek help
    • have such low confidence and self esteem that making decisions is a confusing and difficult task
    • be isolated from family and friends and feel they have no one to turn to
    • be worried about financial security if they leave
    • not have information on services available
    • have received a negative response, when they reached out to someone for support in the past
    • be too exhausted to take on any life changes or major decisions
    • still have feelings of love for their partner and fond memories of how things used to be
    • hope and believe that things will get better

    It is important to remember, leaving is a process and not an event. Society has a responsibility to support women who make that difficult decision. All agencies can play a role in providing support during a woman and children’s help seeking process. A positive initial response is crucial. Women and children need to be believed, supported and encouraged to take positive steps for their own safety and well being.

    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 this time. The British Crime Survey found that 37% of women studied who had left their abusive partner reported that the violence continued. Research by Lees (2000) highlighted that women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner.

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  • What causes domestic violence?
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    Domestic violence is deeply rooted in issues of power, control and inequality. There are many myths and realities about domestic-violence surrounding domestic violence, including that is caused by:

    • alcohol or drug misuse
    • mental illness
    • earlier experiences of violence or abuse

    The reality is, however that it is caused by a misuse of power by one person (usually male) over another. Behaviour is always a choice and those who perpetrate domestic violence do so to get what they want and to gain control.

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  • What are the effects of domestic violence?
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    The effects of domestic violence are wide ranging and will differ for all victims. In some cases the impact of domestic violence is fatal.

    The obvious physical effects of domestic violence can include, physical injury such as cuts, bruising, broken bones etc. What is often not so obvious is the emotional suffering which can occur as a direct result of domestic violence. 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, worry for their children, 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.

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  • Does domestic violence happen in gay/lesbian/bisexual or transgender relationships?
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    Domestic violence may happen to anyone. Victims of domestic violence can include, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

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  • Who may experience domestic violence?
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    Anyone may experience domestic violence. Domestic violence occurs across all groups in society, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, wealth or geography. The majority of victims are women and children although research is highlighting the prevalence and context of male victims of domestic violence. Research and statistics, including MARAC statistics show that about 90% of reported cases are perpetrated by men against women. It is estimated that one in four women will suffer domestic violence at some point in their lives. The 24 Hour – Live Fear Free Helpline is here to help anyone affected by domestic violence: 0808 80 10 800

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  • Can women be perpetrators of domestic violence?
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    Research and statistics show that in the majority of cases, men perpetrate domestic violence against women. Domestic violence has its origins in power and control and is linked to issues of equality and gender. Deep rooted social traditions and values can contribute to the existence of patriarchal views that encourage men to believe they are entitled to power and control over their partner. However, it is becoming increasingly recognised that men can and do experience violence from female partners and domestic violence can also happen in lesbian relationships.

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  • How common is domestic violence?
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    Research has shown that approximately one in four women have or currently experience domestic violence. It is therefore very common. Statistics highlight the prevalence of the issue in the UK. Additional information on children, young people and domestic violence highlights their experiences.

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  • What is domestic violence?
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    Domestic violence 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 or family relationship.

    Domestic violence takes many forms, physical, psychological, economic, sexual and emotional and can often be a combination of several of these. It includes forms of violent and controlling behaviour such as: physical assault, sexual abuse, rape, threats and intimidation, harassment, humiliating and controlling behaviour, withholding of finances, economic manipulation, deprivation, isolation, belittling and constant unreasonable criticism. Domestic violence is one element in the overall issue of violence against women, which includes, among other crimes, murder, rape, sexual assault, trafficking, sexual stalking and sexual harassment.

    Domestic violence often occurs over a period of time. 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.

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