Have you ever wondered “why doesn’t she leave him?” Domestic violence is indiscriminate and can affect anyone of any race and class. The Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) states 1.2 million women aged 15-59 have experienced domestic violence in the year ending of March 2017, as well as 713,000 men in that same year.
There are many forms of domestic violence, the obvious being physical and emotional; it can also extend to sexual, psychological, as well as, financial. Women can also suffer from FGM and forced marriages.
Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in March 2017, found that 46 out of 100 of reported incidents result in arrests and of that an eye watering 32% are considered to be of a violent nature. It can go without saying these figures are underestimated as many individuals will not come forward.
Looking at the victims of domestic violence demographically, BAMER women are significantly more affected. But why is this? In today’s patriarchal society women are often seen as inferior to men, this includes many cultures. For example in the South Asian community, there is a barrier for women to seek help for the fear of tarnishing the family reputation (sharam). They are threatened with the idea of isolation from their children; loss of possessions and the fear of rejection from extended members of family, possibly even the community. For many women in this community they are responsible for upholding their ‘honour’ and will lose face if they tarnish it.
For many refugee and asylum seeking women who experience domestic abuse, there is a language barrier restricting them from seeking help. Many of these vulnerable women who accompany their partner are financially dependent on them, furthermore they are unaware of their legal rights and the claims they can make. For many of the victims that have fled from oppressive and war torn countries, whereby their immigration status is uncertain, therefore asking local authority for safety becomes less likely.
The effect of domestic violence is detrimental, research shows, 3 women a week commit suicide as a result, and 40% of homeless women state domestic violence is a contributing factor to their homelessness. The World Health Organisation states, those that are subject to domestic violence, are twice as likely to experience depression. The estimated cost of providing services and the lost economic output to victims reach a staggering £15.8 billion annually in the UK.
So what can be done? Prevention and reporting domestic violence is a start to stamping it out for good. One of the key elements to tackling domestic violence is education. Holding English language classes for women can bring an array of benefits, they will become more confident in their day to day lives, they will be able to express their feelings with the wider community as well as understand the British laws that surround domestic violence. Women will find it easier at seeking help and advice and more importantly, feel more comfortable too. Educating young people of the effects and what a healthy relationship is, the concept of abuse and consent, it allows them to know what to look for if they are ever in an abusive situation.
Here at JAN Trust, we provide a warm safe environment for women to gain confidence and come together as a community, where they can seek advice and direction on any issues affecting them, including domestic violence. We offer English language classes, held weekly in our centre, which aim to instil confidence and empowerment to women with the greatest care and support provided. If you are affected by what you have read and/or are going through domestic violence, you can contact JAN Trust for help and advice.