The silent killer - domestic abuse and signs of hope
Domestic abuse needs to gain the recognition that it deserves and there are some encouraging signs. Organisations all across the country are more aware of its prevalence and are more responsive to the problems it presents; this includes statutory and non-statutory health and social care organisations, the police and educational bodies.
There is help out there.
The statistics about domestic abuse are shocking and yet despite its prevalence, it remains what is the 'silent killer'.
This term suits the subject not only in terms of the deaths related directly to it as a result of homicide and suicide, but also in terms of what feels, for the individual experiencing it, the death of the victim's voice, their spirit and their freedom. In the media, it goes under-reported. Murder may hit headlines, but it is rarely explicit about the occurrence of domestic abuse and its effects on families.
The statistics show that there are more than two deaths a week as a result of male on female domestic violence; but it is not simply a feminist issue, and male victims are also likely to suffer in silence. Sadly suicides add to that figure.
Domestic abuse now also incorporates understanding about other forms of abuse, including coercion, which is a more recent addition to the definition. This relates to patterns of acts of assaults, threats, humiliation and intimidation that aims to harm, punish or frighten the victim. Recent changes in the law mean that there is legal recognition of this as an offence.
This includes 'honour based' violence, female genital mutilation, and forced marriage.
A Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (2014) means that enquiries can be made about a partner's history to determine if they have a violent past. There is information available on the GOV.UK website but if you are worried about who checks your internet usage then be mindful to clear internet browsing history.
There also needs to be thinking about the violence experienced by children within families, the suffering of children who may either experience violence directly or indirectly, through the sense of the terror and the control this means.
Changes to the definition of domestic violence raise awareness that young people in the 16 to 17 age group can also be victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Do not feel you have to suffer in silence.
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