Secret Scars Revealed

Trigger Warnings – Domestic abuse, death, violence

News of the day, at least in the UK, is the talk of Theresa May’s efforts to crack down on paedophilia, terrorism and domestic abuse. The first two, they’re a whole other blog post, maybe tomorrow as a two part special but I don’t know, we shall see, but the third topic is the one that interests me because if these proposed plans come into place, we might see faith in the system be restored for victims across the country

For those of you unaware of these plans, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced she wants emotional and psychological domestic abuse, as well as coercive control over a spouse or partner, to be considered just as serious as physical assault so abusive spouses could just as easily face fourteen years in prison for shouting at their partner as well as actually hitting them. For the first time in this country, it will be a criminal offence to control or manipulate a partner through verbal abuse as well as physical abuse. The idea for this came about after the research carried out by Women’s Aid that revealed most victims do not contact the police until after thirty incidents of abuse. Yes, you read that correctly, thirty, something has to be done and this might well be step one

Women’s Aid made a big contribution to the efforts of the Home Secretary, mostly in research, such as revealing one incident is reported every thirty seconds but less than 7% of those reports actually result in the perpetrator being convicted. Roughly 1.2 million women are victims of domestic abuse each year but they suffer in silence and this is believed to be because many victims have little faith in the power of the police to actually do something. Obviously, this is not the only reason, I’m aware, there’s conditioning and a desperate hope things will resolve themselves and of course a fear of escalation but this is a valid reason nonetheless and if we can fix this problem, it’s one less problem for people in that situation.

A common issue is police often only deal with the incident they were called to resolve and either neglect past incidents or are unable to do anything with a lack of evidence. The new bill, expected to pass through in the new year, will allow police officers to do more to help and will expand the meaning of the phrase ‘domestic violence’ to mean more than hitting a spouse or partner, it will mean controlling them, insulting them, doing anything to them that makes them feel trapped or powerless, and this is important. The US already has similar bills in place and the results were astonishing – a 50% rise in reported incidents as more victims summoned the courage to seek help. With every reported incident, there is usually a history of unreported incidents so maybe now victims will be able to discuss more of their past with those handling their case

I’m fully behind this, I’ve had friends in abusive relationships and seen them unfold, sometimes first-hand, and the physical stuff only scratches the surface. A black eye, a bruise, it heals, it goes away – but controlling them, making them feel like they DESERVE to be objectified and abused, that sticks, it warps their perception of who they are as people. Psychological scars can’t be fixed up with the passage of time, it takes extensive therapy and consolation and I’m pretty sure the after-effects of such relationships stick with some of the people I know even now. As for financial control, well, to have anyone control your money is to be at their beck and call, it’s a flaw in our society as a whole but to have someone who is supposed to love and trust you do it? I can’t even imagine how that must sting

I hope to see this bill passed next year, so far it has received nothing but support from charities and other politicians so all seems well to get this the green light – any form of mistreating another human being is wrong and should be treated as such, breaking someone’s spirit is just as horrid a crime as breaking their arm or their leg. Here’s hoping we continue to make strides in getting those responsible what they deserve and those in trouble into a safe environment, to think less than 7% of those reported actually feel the consequences, well, that’s just upsetting. With the bill in effect, we may even see the government take less money out of the funding for public services to deal with the rising reports, that can only be a plus. I really do hope this will be the step forward we are dreaming of it being and that justice will come to those in need

PS – If you are a victim and need help, here are some contact details

UK (Female) – Women’s Aid – 0808 2000 247

UK (Male) – ManKind Initiative – 01823 334244

US/Canada – DAHMW – 888-743-5754

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