Domestic abuse is more common than people think. It can happen to anyone at any age, and it can happen in the most different ways. Although the majority of abuse happens physically, other types of abuse are just as common to take place. Official statistics for England and Wales state that an estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59 years old have experienced domestic abuse last year. From this total amount, 1.2 million were women, a figure that has continued to remain strong as women are often the greatest target for this sort of abuse, followed by children and adult males. The infographic below shows the most common types of domestic abuse and how to identify them:
Abuse often becomes worse with time. A behaviour that may initially seem linked to care and concern could quickly evolve to something more dangerous. Perhaps one of the greatest issues with domestic abuse is the lack of people reporting it, as most victims will prefer to stay silent in fear of further abuse taking place. Currently, about 11% of all crimes reported to the British police are linked to domestic abuse. The actual figure of domestic abuse is likely to be much bigger as this kind of violence is seen as a hidden crime that is often not reported to the local police. To make matters worse, only about half of reported abuse incidents are ever investigated or solved. The lack of evidence is one of the greatest reasons for that as the abuse isn’t always obvious to outsiders. Another reason that most domestic abuse cases do not go further is because victims struggle to leave their abusers. This could be due to emotional ties, fear, financial instability or simply having nowhere else to go.
Is this a healthy or abusive relationship?
For a victim of abuse, it may be difficult to identify what makes up a healthy relationship and what doesn’t. Although all relationships have issues, violence should never be an accepted part of life and mutual trust and respect should always be present. Part of the healing process is linked to learning how to have healthy and normal relationships once again. Signs of a healthy relationship include:
- Listening to each other – without shouting or screaming
- Considering each other’s feelings – without the need to hurt
- Respect, trust and mutual support in all ways
- Recognising each other’s strengths and weaknesses
- Seeking to learn more about each other’s cultural differences
- Deciding together to have any sexual relations
- Feeling safe with each other
- Allowing and encouraging your partner to have fun with friends, family or on their own.
How to tackle domestic abuse?
The first thing someone should do when suffering any sort of domestic abuse is to remember we are never alone in life and you can seek help. This help could be anything from a close trusted friend to a social care facility or even the police. In the UK you can call the police (999) to receive more immediate help. Something to consider is contacting those who have experience in dealing with abuse and will be able to offer not only physical but mental support. This support system can come from social work companies, practitioners and domestic abuse support groups.
For children, finding an adult you trust and can confide in is the first step to take. This could be difficult as many of young abuse victims have suffered through the hands of a close family member; but there will always be someone you can reach out to who will help.
Overall, victims must understand that domestic abuse is not their fault. Abuse happens for a variety of reasons, usually linked to issues the abuser faces internally and does not process; causing an external reaction to those around them.