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Introduction to the Domestic Abuse Campaign

Domestic abuse is a global pandemic that transcends borders, cultures and languages. No matter what country it takes place in, patterns of abuse are strikingly similar in every corner of the world.

Abuse is a vast and multi-faceted problem, but it’s also, more often than not, completely hidden. It happens behind closed doors, in homes. Places that are supposed to be our personal sanctuaries become prisons, where victims endure unimaginable suffering at the hands of abusers who often claim to love them.

What is domestic abuse?

A common thread that runs through many domestic abuse survivor stories is feeling a lack of agency in their own lives. Domestic abuse involves controlling another human, stripping away their liberty, and their sense of self. Sometimes abusers can dominate a person’s life, without ever actually laying a hand on them (coercive control). Abusers chip away at their independence by regulating their everyday behaviour, cutting them off from social circles, and controlling their every move until eventually, the victim’s autonomy is eroded.

Abuse is a many-headed beast. It’s psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional. It can be digital and face-to-face. It can be controlling and coercive. It can be immediate and incremental. It can manifest in one way or many ways. It can happen at any point in any relationship. It can victimise anyone, regardless of gender, age, class, race, sexuality or background.

Forms of domestic abuse

Gender based violence

Women are disproportionately affected by domestic abuse. In fact, women make up 89% of all those who have experienced 4 or more incidents of domestic violence (Pankhurst Trust), and men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators. That’s not to say that men, children or trans people don’t experience abuse, but that male-perpetrated violence against women is more ubiquitous, has higher rates of repeated victimisation, and is much more likely to lead to domestic homicide (Women’s Aid).

Impact of coronavirus on domestic abuse

Unfortunately, the advent of COVID-19 has aggravated the toxicity of a situation that’s been simmering for so long. For a victim of abuse, stay-at-home measures mean self-isolation with their abuser, increasing their exposure to abuse, and rendering them even more vulnerable. The charity Refuge reported that average weekly calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for England and Wales had risen by 66%, and website visits had jumped by 950% in comparison to before the pandemic.

Lockdown has reduced an already limited set of options for victims. Since 2010, funding for women’s refuges has been cut by nearly £7 million (Guardian), which leaves charities with no choice but to operate on a shoestring budget. The human cost of this is that in 2019, 64% of refuge referrals were turned away. Women and children fleeing their homes in search of safety are being denied shelter because of a lack of funding, making it even more difficult for them to escape their abusers.

Funding issues are one side of the coin. A lack of awareness of domestic abuse charities is the other. Many victims don’t know where to go or who to turn to. Some stay with their abusers, biding their time, and planning their own escape because they feel as though there is no help.

Domestic abuse charities on the front line

But there is always a helping hand to pull victims out of abusive environments. Charities like Women’s Aid have live chats, forums, email services and helplines where abusers can seek counsel, escape plans and clarity on how to spot the signs of abuse. They campaign for top-level, governmental change by lobbying for policies that protect survivors, and fighting off funding cuts, successfully securing an investment of £55 million until 2020.

The AVA project devise toolkits, e-Learning modules and other learning materials that help professionals better support survivors of abuse. They provide training to adults and young people to help raise a generation who understand abuse more than their predecessors. There are also some amazing local and regional domestic abuse charities, such as our partner, NIDAS, who offer Nottinghamshire residents a family-based approach to tackling abuse, supporting those living with or experiencing abuse from crisis to recovery. We’re also working with IDAS, who cooperate with survivors to identify exactly what they need, from helping them through the criminal justice system to referring them on for counselling. These charities are a lifeline for victims, but most of them depend on public support to fund their services and raise awareness.

How you can get involved

This is where you come in. Through our app, you can get involved with UK charities like the AVA project, NIDAS and IDAS. We invite you to join our domestic abuse campaign to learn about the different types of abuse and how to spot domestic abuse. Then, you’ll be given easy, quick actions you can take to support these charities. Via our app, you can sign petitions, use your social network to share survivor stories, write to politicians, have your say on the Domestic Abuse Bill, and so much more.

Download the now-u app to join a community of people fighting for change.

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Emma Mulholland

Full-time copywriter with a background in digital communications. In her spare time, she does comms work for several charities, and can be found reading, doing yoga, playing video games or tending to plants.

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