Throughout the last few months we have been supporting a number of campaigns highlighting domestic abuse, including the White Ribbon Campaign and the Greater Manchester Police & Crime Commissioner Campaign, ‘Sitting Right with You’. This is an important issue, affecting many in society, and which can have a severe impact on the lives of our clients.
Domestic Abuse is an umbrella term encompassing various forms of abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse/ coercive control, digital abuse and honour-based violence. The UK Government defines domestic violence as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or who have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.”
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined, with the shocking statistic that two women are killed by their partner or ex-partner each week. Emotional abuse/coercive control is the most common form of domestic abuse, and is easily kept hidden. It includes repeatedly making someone feel bad or scared, belittling, humiliating or berating someone, stalking, blackmailing, constantly checking up on someone and playing mind games. Due to the nature of emotional abuse, the victim questions and blames themselves, suffering from very low self-esteem. The belief it is their fault can deter them from seeking the support they need.
Additionally, there can be some confusion to as what constitutes domestic abuse. For example, sexual abuse within intimate relationships is not always fully understood if there is, or has been, a previous/current consensual sexual relationship. This issue can be compounded due to sexual relationships are societally thought of as private matters, consequently, the victim often feels alone and unable to reach out for support.
Stats – Around two thirds of domestic abuse victims are women, but that does not mean women cannot be the perpetrators either in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship, or between family members. Domestic abuse affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their life time, from all ages, races and ethnicities. Statistics reveal each year around 2.1 million people suffer some form of domestic abuse in the UK – 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population); though much abuse goes on behind closed doors, so it is possible these statistics are under-reported. It is estimated that high-risk victims live with domestic abuse on average for 2.3 years before seeking help.
How does Domestic Abuse relate to substances?
It is estimated that 25-50% of perpetrators are under the influence of alcohol. Drug and alcohol use are known to impair judgment, reduce inhibition, and increase aggression. Substance use can become an excuse for their behaviour, but it is vital to note that drugs and alcohol do not cause domestic abuse, but merely exacerbate it. Victims of domestic abuse may also turn to drugs and/ or alcohol to manage the distress of the abuse. In this case, the perpetrator may use their substance use as a reason for their behaviour. In our services, our clients may be the perpetrator or the victim of domestic abuse. In either case, it is necessary to address both the substance use and the abuse concurrently, as well as any mental health and child safeguarding concerns.
Some more statistics
- Domestic abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse/ coercive control, digital abuse and honour-based violence.
- Domestic abuse affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their life time, from all ages, races and ethnicities.
- Each year, around 2.1 million people suffer some form of domestic abuse in the UK – 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population).
- High-risk victims live with domestic abuse on average for 2.3 years before seeking help.
- Two women are killed by their partner or ex-partner each week.
- It is estimated that 25-50% of perpetrators are under the influence of alcohol.
Domestic abuse is something we should all be aware about – it can have a profound effect on our client’s lives, both from a victim and perpetrator role. ADS is committed to raising awareness of this issue and ensuring that we have the necessary support and information available to all of our clients.
White Ribbon Campaign – http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/
‘Sitting Right with You’ campaign – http://www.sittingrightwithyou.co.uk/