Domestic Violence

young woman is a victim of domestic violenceDomestic violence is defined as any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults that are or have previously been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexual orientation. While domestic violence is defined as an incidence of threats, violence, or abuse of a psychological, physical, sexual, emotion, or financial, there are still consequences suffered by children who might be exposed.

In the United Kingdom the police receive a call for assistance with a domestic disturbance, however it is estimated that less than half of the incidents of domestic violence are actually reported. With such a high rate of domestic violence in the United Kingdom, approximately 20% of children are exposed to some form of violence or abuse.

Common Signs of Domestic Abuse

It is important for both potential victims of domestic violence and others to be able to recognise the common signs and behaviours associated with instances of domestic abuse and violence. Individuals who are in a relationship that they have begun to have questions about should consult the many available resources to determine if they are at risk and how to get help. People who might be the friends, family, co-workers, or other acquaintance, should be aware of the potential signs of domestic violence and offer assistance appropriately.

There are often signs in the behaviour of an individual towards the victim of domestic violence, including controlling behaviour and coercive behaviour. The following signs may indicate that you are experiencing some form of domestic abuse and may be at risk for an escalation in domestic violence; controlling access to friends and family, preventing growth through work or school, extreme jealousy and accusations of infidelity, destruction of your possessions, threats of violence against you or those you care about, restricted finances, forced to do something against your will, instilled fear of you partner, caused you to change your behaviour out of fear.

Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

There can be significant psychological consequences for children who are exposed to domestic violence, which can lead to many different issues for that child. Some of the most common signs of a child under the stress of exposure to domestic violence include; withdrawal, aggression and bullying, tantrums, vandalism, problems in school, learning difficulties, attention seeking behaviour, nightmares and trouble sleeping, anxiety and depression, drug or alcohol misuse, eating disorder, impaired immune system, as well as bed-wetting or other physical manifestations. It is important to ensure a child you suspect may be witness to domestic violence is assisted by a trusted adult, and offered the services or therapy that is deemed potentially beneficial to that child.

How to Help Prevent Domestic Violence

There are ways you can protect yourself and help prevent yourself from becoming a victim of domestic violence, but the systemic issue requires a broader response. Overall, domestic violence is an issue for society and not just the specific victims. It requires coordinated efforts and a change in the social attitude in order to establish a new norm in which everyone takes responsibility.

Low rates of domestic violence are reported for a variety of reasons, and this can make it difficult to apply the appropriate response from law enforcement while limiting access to the available services. Public awareness related to identifying and reporting issues of domestic violence should accompany a strong criminal and social justice system for addressing domestic abuse. There are many entities involved in reducing domestic violence including; non-governmental organisations, public and private service providers, as well as the government and law enforcement.

Domestic Violence, The Law, & Where to Find Help

There are a wide range of services available to meet the many needs that might arise for direct victims, children who are exposed, and for the people who commit acts of domestic violence themselves. It is important that potential victims of domestic violence obtain services as soon as possible, and that any incidents are reported to the appropriate authorities. Friends and family can play important roles in providing emotional supports, places to stay and be safe, as well as guidance in reporting and seeking services. Friends, family, or a trained professional can play the role of a domestic violence adviser, a person which can be entrusted with ensuring the safety of an individual who may be experiencing domestic abuse or in the process of getting help.

Laws in the United Kingdom have been made more stringent in order to help combat the prevalence of domestic violence incidents throughout the country. The potential penalties for committing domestic abuse can be significant, and often include jail time for any serious offences. Individuals may also file for protections orders which will create further potential for penalties for violating the terms of the protection order that has been filed against them. While these are the direct responses from law enforcement, there are various governmental programs that aim to address the causes and provide services to those who have committed acts of domestic abuse.