- Physical violence
- Sexual violence
- Mental cruelty
- Victims usually female
- Usually between parents
- Witnessed by children
- CONTROLLING BEHAVIOUR
Reasons why women stay
- Economic pressure
- Social pressure
- Emotional pressure
Good practice responses to domestic violence
- DO give priority to ensuring her immediate safety.
- DO recognise her need for a positive response and your support.
- DO be sensitive to and discuss her fears.
- DO take her seriously, believe her.
- DO reassure her that the violence is not her fault.
- DO let her know that she is not alone in being abused.
- DO remember that her problems may be compounded by racist reactions, language and cultural barriers; or other reactions to her age, sexuality or disability.
- DO remember that her options may be limited by lack of or access to resources.
- DO consult with specialist agencies and individuals.
- DO check if it is all right to send her letters or to phone her at home. Confidentiality is crucial.
- DO respect her wishes if she does not want you to make contact at all.
- DO find out what she wants and see if you can help her achieve it.
- DO let her know that she does not have to leave home to talk to the women at the local refuge.
- DO discuss the situation and any options open to her.
- DO help her explore ways of maximising her safety, whether she leaves or not.
- DO find out what other agencies have to offer and let her know.
- DO take personal responsibility when referring her elsewhere.
- DO keep in contact, if at all possible.
- DON’T ignore your intuition if you suspect a woman is being abused.
- DON’T insist on joint sessions with her and the man.
- DON’T fob off a woman if she comes to you for help.
- DON’T be flippant or cynical or sceptical.
- DON’T ask her what she did to provoke the violence, just the facts.
- DON’T just focus on what she alone can do in the situation. make choices for her.
- DON’T give up on her just because things are taking longer than you think they should.
- DON’T give the man the address and phone number of where she is staying. promise to give a letter or pass on a message to her. from him or to facilitate contact in any way.
There are many popular myths and prejudices about domestic violence. These stereotypes are often at the root of the negative responses abused women sometimes receive when they seek help. Not only does this lead to wrong advice being given, but it causes much unnecessary suffering.
These stereotypes are not backed up by any research and can prevent the needs and circumstances of the woman seeking help from being properly understood. Below are some of the more common prejudices women who have suffered violence encounter.
Myths and facts
“It’s just the odd domestic tiff”
50% of female murder victims are killed by men they have had a relationship with. 25% of reported violent crime is wife assault. Are women to be unprotected by criminal law in their own homes? “I didn’t need a clock in my house. I used to start shaking round about half past ten each evening.., because I knew that he was due through the door”. “Physical battering may last from 5 minutes to 2 hours, but the mental battering is 24 hours, even while you’re asleep.”
“It can’t be that bad or she’d leave”
Women stay in violent relationships for reasons ranging from love to terror. There are also practical reasons why many women do not leave. They may be afraid of further assaults if they seek help. They may be worried about losing their home, their Possessions or even their children. They may fear the poverty and isolation of living as a single parent family. Despite all these problems, the fact that more and more women are coming to Women’s Aid is testimony to the fact that they are not prepared to put up with this sort of treatment any longer.
“Domestic violence only happens in working class or problem families.”
Any woman can be abused. She might be any woman you come into contact with – your sister, your daughter, your mother, your friend, your workmate or your neighbour. It is mainly working class women who use refuges as they often have less access to money or other places to go. “We’ve had a woman of seventy four in our refuge … we’ve had a girl of sixteen. It seems to go straight across the board from all walks of life. We have a judge’s wife, we’ve had social workers’ wives.
“She must ask for it I deserve it I provoke it.”
No-one ‘deserves’ being beaten up or mentally tortured, or the abuse women coming into refuges have received. The so-called provocation has often been simply to ask for money for food, not to have a meal ready on time etc. Women often blame themselves at first but there is no justification for violence.
“It’s only drunks or ‘macho’ men who beat their wives.”
Domestic violence can not be blamed on alcohol. Some men may have been drinking when they are violent, but drink can provide an easy excuse. It can also be easier for a woman to believe that a man wouldn’t have hit her if he were sober. There isn’t one type of man who beats a woman. “You’d be in a pub and they’d say “Oh he’s a great feIla”, I’d sit and think, “Well you don’t know the other side of him”.”
“They must come from violent backgrounds.”
Many men who are violent towards their partner come from families with no history of violence. Many families in which violence occurs do not produce violent men. The family is not the only formative influence on behaviour. The power men have within the family reflects legal, social and economic inequalities in society as a whole.
“She’s not really threatened with violence, it’s just an excuse to get rehoused”
A refuge is no palace. Few women would chose to go there unless they were desperate. Women’s Aid groups have their limited resources over stretched accommodating women and children fleeing violence and haven’t the resources to help women who are homeless for any other reason.