Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October)
October is domestic violence awareness month and Netflix have released a limited series called “Maid”. This follows the story of a single mum, Alex, fleeing her abusive partner, Sean, and what unfolds is her story after their separation. The opening scene shows her fleeing in the middle of the night with their daughter Maddie whilst her abuser sleeps.
The series highlights the struggles of Alex and Maddie and the focus is on domestic abuse, poverty and Alex’s relationships/support network. She has no one to rely on or trust but herself. This unfortunately is what many victims of domestic abuse suffer daily. The series shows the struggle that victims of domestic abuse go through when leaving an abusive partner.
Initially what we see is the main character struggling to accept she is a victim of abuse. She will not accept this “label” and does not believe she should be in a refuge. Many victims struggle to accept that domestic abuse comes in all forms, not just physical. This can be in the form of emotional, verbal and financial abuse. As the series unfolds, we see how over time the perpetrator’s behaviour slowly changed - Alex was blindsided and did not realise she was in an abusive relationship. Often, victims will not identify their own experiences as abusive, especially when dealing with emotional abuse. Psychological abuse involves the regular and deliberate use of a range of words and non-physical actions used with the purpose to manipulate, hurt, weaken or frighten a person mentally and emotionally; and/or distort, confuse or influence a person’s thoughts and actions within their everyday lives. This will impact on their sense of self and harm their wellbeing.
Maid projects the struggles that victims go though to leave their abuser, gaslighting, promising change and even facing the Court system. Victims can often feel powerless and without a voice after years of abuse, which can impact on self-esteem. This can be so daunting, but help is always available. Victims can access support from various domestic abuse services, local authority or even by seeking legal advice from a solicitor.
Women’s Aid state that the crime survey in England and Wales offers the best data and for the year ending March 2020 an estimated 1.6 million women aged 16 to 74 years old experienced domestic abuse in the last year (ONS, 2020). Only 18 percent of women who had experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months reported this to the police.
On average the police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour.
Safe Lives states that each year nearly 2 million people in the UK suffer some form of domestic abuse. The figures are estimated at 1.3 million female victims and 600,000 male victims. Each year more than 100,000 people in the UK are at high and imminent risk of being murdered or seriously injured as a result of domestic abuse.
Around 95% percent of the victims accessing MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) or IDVA (independent domestic violence advisors) services are female. These are services that work with victims of domestic abuse. It aims to support the victim and their children whilst also determining the level of risk posed by the perpetrator, both to the individuals involved and the wider community. An estimated 130,000 children live in homes where there is high-risk domestic abuse.
The government defines domestic abuse as “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.”
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you can:
- Contact specialist support: Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 802 3333
- If you are in danger, contact the police on 999
- Keep a record to gather evidence of dates/times
- Seek domestic abuse legal advice to discuss options such as injunctions, occupation orders, and Orders to safeguard your child/ren.