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Domestic Violence Has Reached a Crisis Point in the UK

Domestic Violence Has Reached a Crisis Point in the UK

For over 40 years, domestic violence refuges have provided support to women and children fleeing their homes at the hands of their partner’s abuse. These safe houses have provided countless women with a home when they no longer had one.

What’s more? They provided women with a great community of support offering counseling, therapeutic care, health services, legal advocacy, immigration advice and children’s services for their frightened little ones.

For 40 years these refuges have opened their doors to women at their most vulnerable, but now, at a time when police receive a report of domestic violence every minute, safe houses across the UK are being forced to close their doors.

Lack of funding because refuges do not admit men is the root cause of many of the closings. Despite reports of increased incidents of men suffering from domestic violence,”The vast majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women,” says Sandra Horley, chief executive of the charity Refuge which may soon be closing its doors. “Of those who experience four or more incidents … 89% are women,” she says.

Closing refuges because there are more male domestic violence victims isn’t the answer here. Women shouldn’t have to choose between staying with their abuser or being homeless when they are in this situation. After all, when women stay with their abusers they are susceptible to continued violence and possible murder. In fact, on average two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner.

“Domestic violence is one of the only crimes where it can feel like the victim is being punished, rather than the perpetrator,” says Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, a national domestic violence charity in the UK.

This could not be more true, particularly given that domestic violence is actually not a crime in the UK. Instead police often use “community resolutions” to resolve domestic violence disputes. In these cases perpetrators avoid court action and get away with simply apologizing to the victim.

“These types of remedies may be effective for some crimes — but domestic violence is not one of them,” says Horley. “When women make the extraordinarily brave step of reporting their partners to the police, they must feel confident that they have the full weight of the law behind them.”

Having the police come over to your home to elicit an apology out of your partner is not enough and actually rather dangerous. There is the possibility that being forced to apologize might further anger an already angry person, putting women and children in harm’s way yet again.

Clearly the system to deal with domestic violence in the UK is broken, but recent remarks from Prime Minister David Cameron make me hopeful that change is on the horizon. When asked about creating a specific domestic violence crime Cameron said the following:

Of course domestic violence is a crime: if you beat someone, if you abuse someone, if you abuse them psychologically, if you stalk someone, if you threaten, those are all individual crimes…But I think the most important thing with domestic violence is to make sure that the police have the training and the understanding, so that when they get a call, they don’t think, “Well, it’s a domestic, it’s inside the house, there’s nothing I can do.” It’s a really important area of crime that we’ve got to get to grips with in our country…every part of that chain needs improvement, and that’s what we’re trying to put in place.

Perhaps the Prime Minister should add the problem of refuges closing to his list of to-dos to protect his country’s women from domestic violence. After all, if the government doesn’t take domestic violence seriously, who will?

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Photo Credit: Stokeparker

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116 comments

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2:37PM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Thanks for the info.

12:46PM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Tangential thought: Not every man is a women’s advocate, but sometimes men you don’t think of as feminists are more feminist that you thought when you look closer. I don’t suppose one would ordinarily think of Stephen King as a women’s advocate, but he HAS written more than one book about abused women who escaped the abuser -- even at great personal cost.

“Gerald’s Game” was about a woman who was sexually abused as a child and grew up to marry a sexual abuser. His “game” was to humiliate and degrade her through bondage. She ended up literally like an animal in a trap, handcuffed to a bed with him dead on the floor, and had to figure out an escape in order to survive. You don’t even have to be too Freudian to understand that plot.

“Delores Claiborne” was about a woman who was almost casually abused by her husband, but who had so little self-esteem, she offered no response until he broke a board over her back. And when she found out that he was sexually abusing their young daughter, she risked her own life to lead him on a chase she KNEW could only end with one of them dead. Both this book and the one above contained a scene of abuse during an eclipse.

Continued below:

12:46PM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

Continued from above:

“Rose Madder” was about a woman married to a police officer who had consistently abused her all through their marriage and gotten away with it. She lived with the expectation that he would kill her one day. What finally inspired her to break out of her mental prison and escape the physical one was the realization that he might not. And if he didn’t, the abuse would go on forever. All of which was “real” enough; it was from the point of her escape onward that the story veered off into the Twilight Zone, although the abusive and eventually murderous husband did get his final comeuppance just like the former two.

Stephen King claims to write his books based upon things he actually saw or knew of sometime in his life. I often find myself wondering when and where he saw enough spousal abuse to have such an awareness of how it beats a woman’s soul and spirit down, too, and how deep the darkness has to be before some women can make a break for freedom.

4:37AM PDT on Aug 15, 2014

ty

3:56PM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

Nobody should have to go through domestic violence be that woman, man or child . Anybody who has experienced domestic violence should have a safe haven to go to and if that means that we need to built separate shelters for women and men so be it but we can not ignore the one over the other . This is just my personal opinion and not a response to anybodies previous comment .

12:45PM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

Finishing that thought:

I have no doubt he’ll eventually be banned, since he does nothing but disrupt.

12:44PM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

@ Heather G:

You’re spot on in that assessment, and if he had cherry-picked the phrase from the source instead of from some male supremacy site, he’d know it, too.

Carol Hanisch is often credited for having coined the phrase “the personal is political.” She says she didn’t, but she did use it as the title of an essay.

Her essay explains the thinking behind the phrase: that consciousness-raising is a form of political action, designed to foster discussion about topics like women's relationships, their roles in marriage, and their feelings about childbearing.

In her essay, she said that coming to a personal realization of how grim the situation was for women was as important as engaging in political actions like protests. She also defined "political" as a reference to any power relationship, not just those that involved the law, the government, or elected officials.

P.S. to Linda:

James unfortunately finds himself in the company of women who not only have facts at their disposal, but who see through him.

He’s following a predictable course: when he’s corrected on one falsehood, he moves to another. When he’s corrected on that, he shifts to another. When he’s called on it, he tries flaming. When trounced for THAT, he pulls put a quotation he doesn’t understand.

It’s all designed to try to subvert the discussion – or derail it if he can’t take control of it. I have no doubt he’ll even

12:08PM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

"The usual suspects" - Marianne, Rainbow, Suba & myself. Thank god I'm in good company. Even when I admit to JAMES that some women can be evil he chooses to ignore it AND the topic at hand. NEVER have I denied that women can be abusers. The problem with some people is that, even if others have suffered equal or worse abuse & atrocities, they have still managed to have a life & not be totally obsessed. How do YOU know James that others here haven't suffered, done something about it (and I don't mean just personally but by social activism) & got on with their lives. You have no clue what others here have experienced but seem not to have the emotional ability to move on. If you are a children's advocate that is commendable but do not assume to know what others here have experienced or done about their experiences. As I've said before, we agree there are evil women, what more do you want us to say? THIS article is about domestic abuse which is predominately committed against women. PLEASE feel free to submit your own about abuse by women.

11:02AM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

Very sad.

11:02AM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

P.S. to Simon:

I didn't think you sounded complacent. I thought you sounded rather decently concerned. And good on you for it!

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I cannot even believe that this is still allowed. Trap the trappers, let's see how they feel.

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