What is domestic and sexual violence and abuse?
“Domestic violence is the intentional and persistent physical or emotional abuse of a woman or of a woman and her children in a way that causes pain, distress or injury”.
Women’s Aid believe that domestic and sexual violence is a pattern of deliberate, persistent and intentional behaviour used to exercise control and power by one person over another, which may take place over a prolonged period of time: “Repeated physical, psychological, sexual or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family type relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour”
Who experiences domestic and sexual violence?
While it is recognised that domestic and sexual violence can occur between other family members, in same sex relationships, and by women against male partners, Women’s Aid focuses on domestic violence where the violence is perpetrated by men towards women with whom they have, or have had, an intimate relationship. This represents the majority of cases reported. In addition it is women who are more likely to experience repeat victimisation and post-separation abuse, and to suffer injuries requiring medical attention and emotional harm as a result of domestic violence.
Research suggests that 1 in 4 women experience domestic and sexual violence at some point in their lives, and it accounts for 23% of reported violent crime. Women are vulnerable to violence and abuse regardless of age, race, class, sexuality, physical or mental ability; and that violence and abuse can be hidden, condoned or colluded with by family, community members and service providers themselves.
Children and young people have been called the ‘hidden victims’ of domestic and sexual violence, since statutory agencies have often viewed the abuse against them as separate from the abuse of their mothers. However, evidence has shown that children and young people suffer from the exposure to violence perpetrated against their mothers in a range of ways. For example in 90% of instances of physical violence children and young people are in the same or next room. A third of those present during an incident of violence, will try to intervene and protect their mother from the abuse.
Keep Safe - 10 Point Plan
- Think of an escape plan
- Know where the nearest telephone is
- Know where refuge can be sought
- Store important papers in a safe place
- Save money secretly
- Leave keys with a friend
- Pack an emergency bag
- Hide some medication
- Consider when it is best to leave
- Create an excuse to slip away
If You’ve Already Left
- Always consider your safety
- Change the locks on your doors and add extra locks to the windows
- Consider installing security lights and alarm systems to the home
- Change your mobile number
- Change Passwords and Delete Social Media accounts
- Know the location of passports, ID and medical cards
- Consider obtaining a Protection Order from the Courts
- Inform a neighbour of your situation
- Inform your Workplace of your situation
- Inform your children’s Nursery, School or Childminder of who is authorised to collect them
- Alter your routines as much as you can
- Try to avoid places that you used to use when you were with your partner