As a mental health practitioner – speaker and counsellor, I often have to talk about diﬃcult subjects, to raise awareness of that subject, and in so doing, hopefully help someone to take action to help their situation.
Today I want to throw the focus on domestic violent and abuse.
If you, or you know someone who is experiencing any form of abuse, it is important to know that help is available.
The biggest step is often acknowledging there is a problem, the next step is to reach out for help, which is a sign of courage and strength. Abuse does not only aﬀect women, it can aﬀect men too, but often the stigma and shame felt holds men back from getting help. I am here to encourage all men too, to take action sooner rather than later.
Home is not always a safe place for people, but home was where we were told to stay for many months by the Government during the several lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
This relates to all gender roles, and children. Children lost the opportunity to go to school, which can often be a safe place away from domestic violence in the home.
Couples who were having relationship issues were forced to stay together for longer than they may have wanted to.
It has been an enormously diﬃcult time for everyone going through this experience.
After previously working for Women’s Aid for over 10 years counselling women who had escaped domestic violence and abuse I wanted to know just how the pandemic has impacted on the ﬁgures.
The Oﬃce for National Statistics website is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to ﬁnd out more about domestic violence and abuse.
The Police recorded a total of 1,459,663 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in England and Wales during the year ending March 2021.
Of these, 845,734 were recorded as domestic abuse-crimes, an increase of 6% from the previous year, representing 18% of all oﬀences recorded by the police in the year ending March 2021.
The ONS estimates from their more recent Crime Survey for England and Wales year ending March 2020 show 5.5% of adults aged 16 to 74 years (2.3 million) experienced domestic abuse in the 12 months prior.
However, these statistics do need to be treated with caution as it is based on police recorded crime data, which do not provide a measure of domestic abuse prevalence. Police recorded crime ﬁgures have shown increases in domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes, which may reﬂect upon enhanced data recording by the police.
But the story does not end there…..
Domestic abuse is often a ‘hidden crime’ which may not be reported to the police. For many people the fear of what might happen, the fear of what people will think, the fear of not being able to cope traps them into a repeating cycle of domestic violence and abuse.
Often the beginning of a relationship can be a whirlwind of love and aﬀection. This is often referred to as ‘love bombing’ whereby a perpetrator will be overly aﬀectionate and attentive, giving gifts, and promising to look after and care for their victim.
The victim can be lured into disclosing more about their personal life to their perpetrator, falsely believing that trust is being built in the relationship. This information is often used against the victim as the relationship develops.
The term ‘gaslighting’ was coined following the 1944 ﬁlm “Gaslight’. The wife was made to believe she was going mad (the gaslights would dim and she was told she was ‘imagining it’). This process of eroding away someone’s self esteem can eventually lead the victim into doubting themselves.
Phrases such as “you’re imagining it’ “you’re too sensitive” “I was only joking” “are you sure?” Can lead the victim to doubt themselves. These comments are a constant ‘drip drip drip of poison’ which ultimately the victim begins to believe.
Often people normalise a situation, and it is only through a process of talking it though with a professional that they come to the realisation that it is not acceptable.
So what can someone do? There are many support systems in place.
- The Gov.uk website has a wealth of supporting information and help for anyone wanting to learn more about domestic abuse.
- Ask for “ANI”. The Gov.uk website advises that if you are experiencing domestic abus and need immediate help, ask for ‘ANI’ in a participating pharmacy. ‘ANI’ stands for Action Needed Immediately. If a pharmacy has an ‘Ask for ANI’ logo on display, it means they are ready to help. They will offer you a private space, provide a phone and ask if you need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.
- Women’s Aid have a directory of domestic abuse support services across the UK. You can access a live chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Victim support 24/7 support line 08081689111
- England – Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247
- Northern Ireland – Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline – 0808 802 1414 – email@example.com
- Scotland – Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline – 0800 027 1234 – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wales – Live Fear Free – 0808 80 10 800
My passion is to raise awareness on this difficult and sensitive subject, and I deliver workshops and webinars into the workplace to educate and inform Managers and employees on what they need to know about domestic violence and abuse, and how they can support themselves, their work colleagues and family members.
It’s time to talk about domestic violence and bring hope to those who may feel there is nowhere to go. If you are a business owner, Manager, or an employee, contact me now to find out how I can help. Let’s make this world a kinder place for all.