Marriage guidance is NOT appropriate in instances of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence (DV) involves abuse that can be physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, psychological or financial. DV is usually a combination of different types of abuse, that often belittles a woman, making her feel that she is worthless. She may have been separated away from most/all of her friends and family, and no longer knows who to trust.
Most women will experience 35 incidents of DV before seeking help.
DV can happen at any age from teens upwards. It happens in all walks of life and social class. It is generally acknowledged that 1 in 4 women will experience DV in their lifetime, and each week (on average) over 2 women will die in the UK.
Leaving a DV setting can be extremely dangerous. Women are most at risk of harm whilst preparing to leave, at the point of leaving and for 3 months afterwards. It may also be difficult to leave. Hostel provision may not be appropriate/available/or accessible. Women with boys over 12 may not be able to take their male children, or any pets. Women may not have the cash to be able to leave, especially if they have to travel a long way to a hostel. If they are receiving any hospital care, leaving and having to start a process again may be awkward.
Physical abuse can take many forms. Often women will be hurt where bruising cannot be seen. Pinching, slapping, punching, kicking, hair pulling, burning, biting, stabbing, strangling, scalding, broken bones, suffocating, poisoning, attempts to kill, assault with weapons are common place, as is murder. Bruises on the inside of the upper arms are very uncommon, unless caused by someone holding the arms very tightly. Women may be denied access to help and when eventually examined there may be evidence of old injuries that have not healed properly. Physical abuse may also involve denying food.
Sexual domestic violence can include: rape, sexual assault using objects, forced sex which hurts, forcing them to have sex with others, having sex in front of others, expecting that she will watch and/or copy porn, videoing/photographing sex acts, unwanted fondling, name calling, forcing sex when tired or ill, pinching buttocks or breasts, forcing unwanted abortions.
Spiritual abuse may include misusing the Bible (or in other religions – their Scriptures) to dominate, it may be denying following your own religion, or celebrating events.
Emotional & Psychological
Putting people down, blaming mother in front of children. This can involve trying to make the women feel that she is cracking up. This might be moving things, and claiming that the woman had lost her mind. It could be telling her things that haven’t happened and saying that they have. It could be isolating her, stopping her using phone, internet, refusing money, being locked in the house, preventing her from learning English, having contact with family and friends, not allowing her to work, go to college/attend training, taking her everywhere, telling her that this doesn’t happen to others, encouraging phobias, dependence on him, depression, stopping her going out.
It could also be undermining them, expecting meticulous behaviour, expecting instant responses, expect to be waited on, making her re-do jobs, complaining that food isn’t properly cooked, table incorrectly laid, things in the wrong places.
It may be forcing her to beg for food or money, humiliating her in front of others, making her think she is “dirty” or “damaged goods“, telling her she is too young/too stupid to do things.
Making threats – these can be about family, friends, safety, killing pets, abusing children, killing himself, leave her with nothing, leave her so ugly that no-one will want her, having her sectioned, or loosing children, to find her if she leaves.
It could be that she is left exhausted, that she has to work so hard, or has her sleep disturbed, that she is left without medication, not allowing her to use contraception – so she is constantly pregnant.
Abusers can make themselves look “good” by covering their abuse with occasional treats.
Preventing her getting a job or keeping one, making her ask/beg for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money, not letting her know about the family income, taking benefit payments.
Each authority area should have a strategy for Domestic Violence. Hostels may be available for women, but these have limited spaces and it may be that travel to another area is required. DV hostels may restrict the age of male children with some being excluded from the age of 12, and others, 14 or 16. Very few hostels are able to take pets, (although some have arrangements with local kennels/animal shelters). Spaces for people with mental health problems may also be limited. To refer a client to a hostel the client needs to make the call, or be there when the call is made.
Local Councils are obliged to provide housing for women and children fleeing dv, but this may be in bed and breakfast, or with those who have just left prison. Women should report to the Homeless Person’s officer at the Council, or any Council. Some areas have “Sanctuary Schemes“. This enables clients to have a safe room within there own home.
In many areas there are IDVA’s (Independent Domestic Violence Advocates). They can provide help and assistance especially through the court system.
A victim may be referred to a MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference). All agencies come together at a MARAC to plan for the coordinated response for the victim.
Specialist Domestic Violence Courts (SDVC) should be available for victims. Here specially trained magistrates or judges will conduct cases. However some of these are now threatened with closure.
National DV Line (24 hour line, but answer machine may be on) 0808 2000247
Duluth Power and Control Wheel
Rights of Women
Restored Relationships (Tear Fund)
The White Ribbon Campaign (Men working against dv)