A major crime study showed that, ‘two million people suffered domestic abuse at the hands of partners or relatives last year. About 1.2 million women and 800,000 men were victims of physical, emotional and sexual attacks, (Hayden Smith, Feb 13, Metro).
As with childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence victims also feel if they report what has happened to them they will be blamed or accused in some way for the crimes that they have suffered. ‘A recent report found domestic violence had gone up by 17% nationally over the recession’ (Pippa Crerar, Nov 12, Evening Standard).
Justin Lee Collins brought this topic into the limelight last year when he was accused of domestic violence towards his partner, Ann Larke. Ms Larke said she felt like she had to, ‘walk on egg shells’ and constantly had to watch what she wore and how she spoke. Mr Collins was convicted of harassing his girlfriend receiving a sentence of 140 hours community service. This case highlights that mental abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse. In fact many victims state that the mental torture is much harder to cope with than the physical abuse.
Since the Collins case, ‘the government announced a widening of the definition of harassment to include “coercive control” – where one partner controls what another does every day, perhaps by threatening them, preventing them seeing their friends or controlling their finances.’ There are some shocking statistics when reading reports on domestic violence, ‘on average, two women a week are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner. This constitutes nearly 40% of all female homicide victims. Also ‘the UK police receive one domestic violence call every minute’. (Kathryn Westcott, BBC news magazine, Oct 12).
What can we do to help ourselves or our loved ones who may be suffering in silence in a domestic violent relationship? The first step is to become aware of the warning signs.
The abuser will have some of the following traits:
- Jealous and possessive
- Have a Jekyll and Hyde personality
- Angry and intimidating
- Humiliate or insult their partner in front of others
- Isolate their partner from their family and friends
Remember the abuser can be charming to the outside world but very different behind closed doors and many victims will blame themselves for the abuse. Break the cycle before it breaks you.