For most of us, Christmas is an exciting time of year to look forward to and enjoy but for those suffering domestic abuse it can be a time to dread. Generally through the festive period, the police often see reports of domestic abuse increase. This can be down to a number of factors including financial pressures and busier schedules.
Domestic abuse is defined as any incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people aged 16 or over who are or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone at any time. There is no typical victim of domestic abuse. The fact is, it can happen to anyone regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, class or gender.
A woman or man can commit domestic abuse. They usually appear to be good, loving partners, fathers or mothers, have good jobs and are well liked. But behind closed doors, they can be inflicting violence.
Abusers can often try to rationalise or excuse their behaviour, or blame their victim. Victims should remember that it isn’t their fault and there is never an excuse for domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse can often be brought on by the use of alcohol or drugs and help is available for abusers to manage these issues.
We have covered eight of the most common myths that are assumed about domestic abuse;
- Only married women experience domestic abuse – false
Anyone can suffer from domestic abuse or abuse.
- Domestic abuse only occurs between a couple – false
Domestic abuse can occur between any family members, including mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, aunts, uncles, grandparents, in–laws and step family.
- Domestic abuse is uncommon – false
Research by the British Crime Survey shows that one in four women is a victim of domestic abuse at least once in her lifetime. The police receive a call about domestic abuse every minute in the UK.
- It was only a momentary loss of temper – false
Research suggests that victims of domestic abuse are victimised over and over again by the same person.
- Hitting your partner is the only form of domestic abuse – false
Domestic abuse encompasses physical, psychological, sexual, emotional and financial abuse.
- Only poor and ethnic minority groups experience domestic abuse – false
Domestic abuse does not discriminate. People of all classes, genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and religions can experience domestic abuse.
- Women always stay in violent relationships – false
Many women and men who leave violent or abusive relationships go on to build a life free of violence and abuse. Almost all victims of domestic abuse will leave at least once.
- People don’t get seriously hurt by domestic abuse – false
Statistics show that the leading cause of injury for women aged 15 to 44 is domestic abuse. Almost half of all murders committed in the UK are domestic linked, with one woman murdered by a partner or ex–partner every three days.
Remember that you have a right to a life free from fear, violence and abuse. Help and support is available to you.
Where can I turn for support?
Always call 999 in an emergency.
These agencies may be able to provide you with additional support, advice and information when looking to leave an abusive relationship.
- Cambridgeshire’s Victim and Witness Hub – 0800 781 6818
- Cambridge Women’s Aid – 01223 361214
- Peterborough Women’s Aid – 08454103123
- Fenland, Huntingdonshire and Peterborough Refuge – 07787255821
- Men’s Advice Line – 08088010327
- National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 08082000247
- National Stalking Helpline – 08088020300
- LGBT Abuse Helpline – 08009995428
- Honour Based Abuse Helpline – 08005999247
- Cambridge Rape Crisis – 01223 245888
- Peterborough Rape Crisis – 01733 852578
- The Elms Sexual Assault Referral Centre – 0800 193 5434
Remember, the threat of violence can escalate when you leave, and in the early times of separation. Make sure you have safety measures in place and you seek support from agencies that can help.
If you are planning to leave:
- when making your plans, take care over who to trust with any information
- the time for leaving needs to be carefully planned – allow adequate time to pack and get away safely
- Avoid using a satnav when travelling to a prospective new home or destination and always wipe the history if you do – your partner may check it to see where you have been and find out what you are planning
- consider whether or not a civil order is a viable option – seek legal advice
- make an extra set of keys for home and your car and store them somewhere safe
- make up a bag with spare clothes, telephone numbers, keys, money and keep it safe so you can take it quickly, or keep it with a trusted friend
- take information that might help others to protect you, such as a recent photo of your partner and their car details
- talk to children about the possibility of leaving and try to take all the children, whatever long-term arrangements might be
- avoid making any unusual changes to routine which may alert your partner that something is going on
- consider speaking to a solicitor
Have the following available in case you have to leave quickly:
- important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, driving licence, divorce papers, lease or mortgage papers, passports, insurance information, school and medical records, welfare and immigration documents, court documents
- credit cards, bank account number
- online passwords, especially for banking and social media
- some money
- extra sets of keys – for car, house and work
- medications and prescriptions, including those for children
- telephone numbers and addresses for family, friends, doctors, lawyers and community agencies
- clothing and comfort items for you and the children
- photographs and other items of sentimental value such as jewellery
Always call 999 in an emergency