What is domestic abuse
Domestic Abuse can affect anybody regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, age, disability, or sexuality and victims can experience abuse from both current and former partners and / or family members. It is estimated that around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6/7 men experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and it is estimated that around 160 000 children in England are living in homes where domestic abuse is occurring.
There are many different types of abuse, this may include:
Physical abuse: Biting, kicking, punching, pushing, strangulation and pulling hair.
Psychological/ Emotional abuse: Threats, shouting, name calling, intimidating behaviour.
Sexual abuse: Unwanted sexual attention e.g., touching you in public, demanding sex when you have said ‘no’, hurting you during sex.
Economic abuse: Not allowing you to access your own money, making you ask for money to buy essential items such as nappies for children and sanitary products for yourself.
Digital/ Tech abuse: Accessing you emails/ social media, sharing images without your consent, using trackers and spyware to monitor your movements.
Harassment and stalking: Bombarding you with texts, calls, messages, following you, damaging property, giving unwanted gifts.
Coercive Control: Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim (Women’s Aid, 2022). Common examples of this include isolating you from friends and family, repeatedly putting you down, monitoring your time and not allowing you to make decisions e.g., where you can go, what you can wear. Being a victim of coercive control can make you feel that you are walking on eggshells, and it has been likened to being taken hostage. Coercive Control is serious and for this reason, it is a stand-alone offence as part of the Serious Crime Act 2015. You can read more about coercive control here.
Find out more about the Domestic Abuse Act by clicking here.
How does domestic abuse impact my child?
The Domestic Abuse Act (2021) recognises that children are direct victims of domestic abuse. This change to the law is important as we know that children of all ages can be harmed by the actions of a perpetrator. This may include physical, emotional, psychological, and developmental harm. The trauma children face when experiencing domestic abuse can have long lasting effects on their ability to self-regulate and cope when exposed to triggers and stressful situations.
Find out more about the impact of Domestic Abuse on children by clikcing here.
Who can help you?
Sometimes it can be hard to recognise that you are experiencing domestic abuse and/ or coercive control. However, asking yourself if you feel afraid of your partner or a member of your family is a good starting point. It is important to remember that you are not to blame, you are not alone and that help is available.
Telling someone about what you are experiencing can be hard but speaking about the abuse is the first step to getting the specialist support that you and your child/ren need. Health Visitors are trained to be able to respond in these circumstances and they will be able to make sure that you receive the right support at the right time.
Recovering from experiencing domestic abuse can be a difficult process for both adults and their children but there are a number of services that can help. In Lewisham, we have recovery programmes available, and your health visitor can tell you more about these.
Who can I contact?
Other organisations that can help include:
- Emergency services: 999
- National Domestic Abuse helpline: 08082000247 (24-hour helpline)
- Athena (Lewisham specialist service): 08001124052
- Rape Crisis South London: 0808 500 2222 https://www.rasasc.org.uk/
- Men’s Advice Line (Male Victims of domestic abuse): 0808 801 0770 https://mensadviceline.org.uk/
- Southall Black Sisters: 0208 571 9595 https://southallblacksisters.org.uk/
- Karma Nirvana (Honour-Based Abuse): 08005999247 https://karmanirvana.org.uk/
- Mankind Initiative (Male victims of domestic abuse): 01823 334244 https://www.mankind.org.uk/
- GALOP (National helpline for LGBT+ community): 0800 999 5428 https://galop.org.uk/
- Sign Health (Deaf health): https://signhealth.org.uk/with-deaf-people/domestic-abuse/
- Rights of women (Legal advice and helplines): https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/
- National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300 https://www.suzylamplugh.org/pages/category/national-stalking-helpline
- Respect Helpline (For perpetrators of abuse): 0808 8024040 https://www.respect.uk.net/
- Lewisham Children’s and Family Centres: Domestic Abuse recovery programmes: https://www.lewishamcfc.org.uk/domestic-abuse/
- Tech Abuse: https://refugetechsafety.org/what-is-tech-abuse/
- The Survivors Handbook: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/the-survivors-handbook/