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What to Do if You Are a Victim of Domestic Abuse

22 Feb 2021

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Over recent years, the number of reported domestic abuse cases have increased across the UK. Indeed, during the first Covid-19 lockdown from March to June, police recorded an increase of 7% in cases compared to the previous period.

What is not clear, however; is whether this truly represents a rise in cases, or perhaps an increase in the severity of abuse coupled with limited access to coping mechanisms, such as leaving the house or seeing a counsellor. What is clear is that individuals suffering need to be aware of the protective options available to them.

 

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is an exploitation of power. It encompasses any controlling, dominating, threatening, intimidating or violent behaviour used by one person on another via physical, emotional or sexual means within a relationship.

Domestic abuse may not only be harmful to the actual victim, it can also have a serious effect on children or any witness to the abuse. It is widely acknowledged children witnessing domestic violence is harmful and abusive to them.

It is important to know that domestic abuse does not only happen in the home when both parties are physically present. It can take place outside the home, over the phone, on social media or through the internet. Both men and women can be abusers or be abused.

Types of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is not limited to physical harm – hitting, punching, rape etc. It can also encompass actions, including:

  • Withholding money or not allowing another to earn an income
  • Being controlling through making demands, such as restricting where someone can go, who they can see or what they can wear
  • Not allowing someone to see their friends or leave the house
  • Invading someone’s privacy, such as reading their texts or going through their emails
  • Making threats to harm someone, their loved ones or belongings

How to spot signs of domestic abuse

Often children may not be very forthcoming about being on the receiving end of domestic abuse. It is therefore important to be open to the signs of such experiences.

These often include:

  • Unexpected aggressive orbullish behaviour
  • Anti-social behaviour, such as drug misuse, alcohol use or vandalism
  • Overly high stress levels, with physical manifestations in the form of mouth ulcers, headaches, regular sickness, nightmares or insomnia
  • High anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Eating disorders
  • Reduced social interactions by insolating oneself or acting overly quiet and out of character

If on the other hand, a child is more open with you about their experiences, it is important that you:

  • Pay attention to what they are saying and reassure them they are doing the right thing talking to you
  • Remind them it is not their fault and promise you will help to support them and make sure they get the necessary help
  • Explain your next steps – that you will not confront the alleged abuse and you will report the case right away

If you are worried that a child you know may be a victim of domestic violence/ child abuse and acting out, there are services that can support them to move on and receive the care they need.

 

If you are a victim of domestic abuse

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, we understand how difficult it can be to speak up. There are multiple organisations that can provide the help and support you need to put a stop to the violence, get out and find the right solution for you:

Understanding the options available to you is the first step to prevention. Don’t suffer in silence. If you, or anyone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse, speak to an expert who can help. Don’t let the pain continue.

If you are looking to take out an injunction in order to protect an individual who has been the victim of domestic violence, Hepburn Delaney can support with advice on the type of Court Order you need and how best to approach the situation, find out more here.