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April 19, 2024

Can we end domestic abuse?

I was having a bit of a board storm with my boss at NCDV the other day about our mission statement, which is to make domestic abuse socially unacceptable. I have always preferred this to those that say they want to end domestic abuse because I just don’t think that is realistic. My boss asked me why I don’t think domestic abuse can be eradicated/ended/stopped? I found I didn’t really know how to answer him! And I have been thinking about it ever since. So I thought it may be useful help me if I did a little board storm of my own on here! What shall we start with? I am sure we all have loads of different theories on this?

We all know that domestic abuse is a deeply entrenched issue, and its eradication remains an ongoing challenge.

There are many complex causes.

Domestic abuse comes about from a complex interplay of social, cultural, psychological and economical factors. There is a power imbalance, a need for control by one person over another.

Perpetrators often isolate their victims, weakening their connections with family and friends. This isolation makes it difficult for victims to seek support or even to recognize that they are being abused!

There remains a lack of urgency when it comes to domestic abuse. While we tackle public health issues like smoking vapes and anti smacking laws, domestic abuse doesn’t seem to get the same attention? Imagine if domestic abuse was approached in the same way as these issues?

And what about our justice system? (in the UK). We continually, every day, see media articles about perpetrators of appalling violence and abuse to their partners/ex partners, receiving paltry punishments. Two, three years maybe – out in half that time for good behaviour. And of course, they will behave well because most are bullies and only abuse and use violence to the person they are supposed to care for. No fear there then that the victim has barely any time at all to move on with their life before the abuser is out and about again. Ready to wreak revenge or simply to move on to their next victim. And they can and do, do this, because they are incarcerated but not often given any effective ‘treatment’ to address their abusive behaviour. Whether it would even work, we don’t know, but they should try shouldn’t they? And this is only the ones that get a prison sentence. Many do not.

The Police – as hard as they may work to individually, as different forces, try to combat these issues, they can only ever hope for limited success. I believe that they want to get rid of any ‘bad apples’ within their forces. But how can they when at the core of domestic abuse is secrecy! By its very nature, victims and survivors are too afraid to speak out, to report it. So the abusers remain with a clean criminal record. The Police force is always going to attract people that have a tendency to want to be in control, to have power. Being a police officer gives them that power and control.

So what can we do? There are two words that spring to mind. Education and awareness. We have it but is it enough. It is not going to stop someone from hitting their partner. It is not going to stop someone from coercively controlling their partner, sexually abusing their partner, financially controlling their partner. Why? Because the consequences just aren’t enough to make them stop. And I don’t think they ever will be. The government can bring in all the laws and legislation but does it really work on the ground level? Not in my experience.

But we have to keep trying right? Keep raising awareness and keep educating. Trying to educate school kids so they don’t grow up to be the next generation of abusers! Educate the Police. The Police get next to no training on domestic abuse. this HAS to change. Train and educate judges. How can we expect them to hand down appropriate sentences if they do not understand the dynamics of domestic abuse. MAKE the schools, the courts, the Police have this training. Make it mandatory. Make them take it seriously.

Will this end it? Sadly, I doubt it even then. But I tell you what it will do. It will help make it socially unacceptable! and I think that is the best we can strive for.

Oh, I am getting giddy up here on my soap box! Time to get down.


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  • I first met Sharon back in 2000 when I went into a refuge she worked in after fleeing a violent relationship. I had two babies and virtually just a bag of clothes and a few toys with us. She helped me with appointments with the police, solicitors and..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I was fortunate enough to meet and work with Sharon when she was the Advocacy Manager at Woman’s Trust and I was working for Westminster City Council. During this time Sharon developed and managed the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service..

    Ainslie O’Connor – Principal Advisor for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Adelaide, Australia.
  • Thank you so much for all the support you have given me. You really have been amazing, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with Child Protection without you. The amount of strength you have given me is totally priceless, even with..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I knew Sharon as a work colleague over ten years ago. At the time, she was supporting vulnerable people, some of them were homeless due to domestic abuse and substance misuse. For me, assisting such people was what anyone in her role would be expect..

    Ted Chanza, Head of Market Operations, Airtel Malawi Ltd, Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa.
  • I have known Sharon for 6 years and have had the pleasure of working alongside her when I chaired the Westminster MARAC. Sharon is a committed, empathetic supporter of women who are or have experienced domestic abuse. She regularly goes the extra m..

    Former Chair of The Westminster MARAC.
  • I was fortunate to have had Sharon as my support worker after 17 years of domestic violence and 4 children that had witnessed and gone through it with me. I was finally strong enough to stand up and protect myself and my children. Without Sharon’s ..

    A survivor of domestic violence.
  • Without the support and constant reassurance of Sharon, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever grateful to her. She is extremely dedicated and knowledgeable, having her on my side when dealing with someone as persistent..

    Anonymous survivor of Domestic Abuse.
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