Blog: Thursday 23rd November 2017
“Why don’t you just leave?”
If you suspect that your friend/colleague/relative is experiencing Domestic Abuse, there are several ways in which you can support them. Firstly, just ask! Make sure you are in a safe environment where they feel able to speak freely and ask them if they feel that their relationship is healthy. Often someone suffering from Domestic Abuse doesn’t tell anyone because a) nobody asked them and b) they don’t know how to say it. Once someone has confided in you, never, ever say the words “Why don’t you just leave?”
These are the words that victims of Domestic Abuse dread. There is nothing quite as demoralising as someone, who is not in your situation, making it appear so easy and straightforward when, in reality, it is anything but. Statistics show that a person suffering from Domestic Abuse is at the most risk of serious harm when they are leaving, or preparing to leave their partner.
Domestic Abuse is all about power and control. If someone leaves, or threatens to leave then the perpetrator loses their control over the situation and their victim. They are then much more likely to escalate their behaviour, in a desperate attempt to regain control.
There are countless reasons why someone doesn’t “just leave” an abusive partner. Here are just a few of the reasons they might feel unable to escape the abuse:
- Love: Despite the abuse they have suffered, they still believe the perpetrator loves them.
- Threats: The perpetrator might threaten to hurt the victim, their children or their loved ones.
- Money: Perpetrators often control their victims financially which means that they don’t have the means to leave or to support themselves or any children they might have.
- Embarrassment: The victim might have been made to feel it is their fault, that “I asked for it”
- The Unknown: Victims often don’t know where to go for help or what their options are.
So we have established what you shouldn’t do; what can you do to help? There are lots of positive ways in which you can support someone suffering from Domestic Abuse. One of the most important things to do is to listen and to believe them. Lots of Domestic Abuse sufferers are scared that others won’t believe that their partner could be abusing them; it could be that in public, their abuser is the life and soul of the party and friendly towards everyone.
Your first reaction may well be to advise the person being abused as to what they should do next. Don’t! They need to talk this through and come to their own conclusion. You can discuss options with them and possible consequences of those options. The average victim of Domestic Abuse will have suffered for a long time before opening up to anyone.
After the initial disclosure is made, make sure you keep in touch. One of the things that perpetrators often do is to isolate the victim from family and friends. If nobody sees the abuse there is nobody to object. Make sure you keep in contact in the safest way possible, wether in person, by phone or even email. This will help the victim know that they aren’t alone in this.
On average someone will try to leave an abusive relationship seven times before they leave for good. Your role as a supportive friend is not to judge them or make them leave before they are ready. 75% of domestic homicides happen when someone attempts to leave, or shortly after they have left. Leaving will be the hardest and most brave thing they have ever done, but they can do it with your support.
To find out more about the common signs of domestic abuse please click here.
Everyone has the right to be safe. There is no excuse for domestic abuse.
Blog: Thursday 5th October 2017.
Domestic abuse – protecting children
What kind of childhood did you have? Some people were lucky enough to be born and raised in a loving family unit where they felt safe and nurtured. For others, conflict within the family may have been am an occasional occurrence. The less fortunate might have been raised in an environment surround by fear and violence. In fact, the later might be more common than you think. New statistics from national children’s charity, the NSPCC reports that children witnessing domestic abuse is at an all-time high. Nearly 5,000 calls were made to the charity’s helpline in 2016, an increase of three-quarters from 2012. In the West Midlands alone calls relating to violence around babies and children has increased by 77% in the last 4 years.
Why are rates increasing?
The reason for the increase in reports of children witnessing domestic abuse appears to be two-fold. As we know, domestic abuse rates in the U.K are rising. In Northamptonshire specifically during May 2017, Northamptonshire County Court heard over 1000 domestic abuse related cases – a 10% increase on last year. However, in addition to rising domestic abuse related crime, the NSPCC also attributes the extra calls to their helpline as an increase in members of the public coming forward and reporting abuse.
What are the effects of domestic abuse on children?
Living in a home where there’s domestic abuse is harmful and can have a serious impact on a child’s behaviour and wellbeing. A child witnessing domestic abuse is recognised as ‘significant harm’ in U.K law. Sadly, domestic abuse can also be a sign that children are suffering another type of abuse or neglect (Stanley, 2011). The effects can last into adulthood, they include:
– Emotional difficulties such as anger, anxiety, sadness or low self-esteem
– Mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), self-harm, suicidal thoughts
– Problems with drugs or alcohol
– Disturbing thoughts, emotions and memories that cause distress or confusion
– Poor physical health such as obesity, aches and pains
– Struggling with parenting or relationships- Learning difficulties, lower educational attainment, difficulties in communicating
– Learning difficulties, lower educational attainment, difficulties in communicating
– Behavioural problems including anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour.
Rory’s story (names changed to protect identity.)
“Mum’s boyfriend Phil came to live with us. He made me go without food if I didn’t eat my dinner.
He would make me have cold showers if I wasn’t in on time to have my bath, and punish me if I asked him for anything in public. If I tried to lie he’d punish me more by hitting me.
When I had bruises from him hitting me or throwing objects at me, he’d make me wear jumpers to school to hide them. If he couldn’t hide the wounds, he sent me in with a note for the teacher with a lie about what happened. But the worst part was what he did to mum.
He was violent to her on a daily basis. He would push her around and hit her in front of me. If he was angry he would strangle her. When he wasn’t happy he locked her in her bedroom so she couldn’t come out and so I couldn’t see her. At night I heard him attacking her.
He told me if I told anyone what home life was like, he would cut my mum’s throat. In the nine years, he lived with us, I tried to kill myself 13 times. It’s bizarre to say that the happiest day of my life was the day my mum was nearly murdered, but it meant that the abuse was over, we had escaped and he was gone.
He was arrested and convicted.
It’s been five years since the abuse ended and I still feel positive every day. My advice to anyone reading this that might be going through something similar is stay strong and speak to someone if you feel it’s safe.”
How can we protect children and end abuse?
As individuals, we need to have the knowledge and confidence to recognise the signs that domestic abuse may be happening in a family home and then report it. It can be difficult to spot but some of the signs include:
– Suddenly behaves differently
– Become aggressive
– Displaying anti-social behaviour
– Seems depressed, anxious, withdrawn or clingy
– Not do as well at school – due to difficulties at home
If a child is in immediate danger call 999 without delay. Or, If you’re unsure that abuse is happening please call our helpline on 0300 0120 154 for confidential advice.
As a society and in broader terms how we deal with this problem is currently a hot topic. Ofsted calls for more emphasis on the effects of domestic abuse on child victims. It says schools must prioritise education about healthy relationships and calls for a new campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse. It is recognised that more funding and better provision of services directly helping families and children is needed, as is more training and guidance for professionals. What do you think? Please visit our social media pages and tell us your thoughts.
Blog: Wednesday 6th September 2017.
Domestic abuse on your doorstep.
As you’re going about your daily business, talking with a colleague, dropping the children off at school or doing a supermarket shop you’re probably unaware that you’re regularly crossing paths with someone that is or has been affected by domestic abuse.
Research from the Office of National Statistics found that 2.0 million adults aged 16 to 59 had experienced domestic abuse in the last year, equating to a prevalence rate of 6 in every 100 adults. Women were more likely to say they have experienced domestic abuse than men, with an estimated 1.3 million female victims compared to 716,000 male victims, (7.7% compared with 4.4%). However, it’s important to note that the gap between male and female victims is closing, with a higher and rising numbers of male victims.
Statistics for the whole of the U.K provide a bigger picture and help us to understand how common domestic abuse is on a national scale. But how does the picture look in Northamptonshire? At our (Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service, NDAS) recent relaunch event, Detective Inspector James Avery, Public Protection gave an overview of domestic abuse prevalence and crime happening here in Northamptonshire.
In May 2017 692 incidents of domestic abuse were reported in Northamptonshire. Of these, 71.5 per cent were female, 24.7 were male and 1.1 where gender was not stated. Children were present at 21.1 per cent of incidents and 22 per cent of cases were alcohol related. Alarmingly, 41.5 per cent of rape incidents were domestic related.
The true scale of domestic abuse in Northamptonshire means that there are on average 14,500 incidents per year or forty calls made to per day. Of these, 500 calls per month require an urgent response. The volume of domestic abuse offences accounts for between 34 per cent and 42 per cent of all violent crime in Northamptonshire.
In terms of locations in the county, the areas in Northamptonshire showing to have higher rates of reported domestic abuse are Corby and Northampton. Whilst, East Northants and South Northamptonshire, have lower levels. Domestic abuse incidents equate to 13.5 per cent of the force total. On a positive note, in comparison to thirty years ago, nearly half of all domestic abuse incidents result in a crime being recorded.
In the face of rising reports of domestic abuse crimes both nationally and in Northamptonshire, the force continues to make positive steps towards tackling the issue. During May 2017 Northamptonshire Police made 240 arrests, in fact, arrests were made in 39 per cent of all reported domestic abuse crime and the conviction rate at court is 73 per cent, with over 1000 cases heard – a 10 per cent increase on last year.
The figures show the true scale of domestic abuse happening in our county. The high levels of incidents recorded suggest that the victims of these crimes aren’t just those we pass on the street, it’s likely they could be someone we know – neighbours, colleagues, family or friends. In partnership with our colleagues at Northamptonshire Police Force and other organisations locally we work to end the harm done through domestic abuse. We believe that nobody should live in fear, whatever their community, we work to achieve effective responses to domestic abuse.
To find out more about the work we do at NDAS, contact us.
There is no excuse for domestic abuse.
Blog: Friday 4th August 2017.
Domestic abuse has no gender.
Did you know that 1 in 3 victims of domestic abuse are men? Or that 1 in every 6 men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime?
Are you surprised? If you are, then you’re certainly not alone in making the assumption that male domestic abuse victims are a very small minority. It is true that the majority of domestic abuse is directed at women but research shows that the number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse has increased 7 fold since 2004/5.
The reality is that 450,0000 men are victims of partner abuse every year, this goes far beyond a few isolated cases or a small minority. It’s a real problem that can have devastating effects on male victims, in the exact same way it can for females. The truth is that domestic abuse is a genderless crime, against a person.
The more obvious differences between male and female victims are the way they report the abuse or how they seek help or in many cases, how they don’t seek help. Research shows that male victims are over 3 times more likely not to report abuse, in comparison to women. Additionally, only 10% of male victims will seek help from the Police, whilst 26% of women will. Male domestic abuse charity, ManKind report that 25% of the helpline calls they receive are actually from concerned friends and family, rather than from victims directly.
The reasons male victims are less likely to seek help are varied. However, our work reveals similar themes. Often men feel emasculated and weak for “allowing” abuse to happen. Our complex society and gender roles expect men to be emotionally and physically dominant over women and other men. This view of masculinity can actually contribute to men becoming perpetrators of domestic abuse. On the other hand, when a male is a victim the very same thing can prevent them from seeking the help they need. This stigma and also the knowledge that they may not be taken seriously or believed contribute to fewer men accessing domestic abuse services.
In light of the increasing numbers of men experiencing domestic abuse, it’s clear that work is needed to raise awareness and to break down beliefs that domestic violence is a female problem. Currently, the amount of male refuge space in the UK is limited and insufficient. There is not enough space to meet the need. In response to this, we (NDAS) are in the process of opening a male refuge in Northamptonshire in partnership with The Northamptonshire Quakers. The refuge will be a place where male victims can seek help and support whilst they are found somewhere more permanent if required.
To access this service please call our 24/7 helpline today – 0300 0120 154 or email us.
To find out more about the common signs of domestic abuse please click here.
Everyone has the right to be safe. There is no excuse for domestic abuse.
Blog: Friday 14th July 2017.
We are NDAS.
Hello and welcome to our first blog and brand new website, we’ve got some exciting news to share with you.
Friday 14th of July 2017 marks an important date for Northampton Women’s Aid. From this point forward we will be known as – Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service (NDAS).
The service has been rebranded and updated to reflect the full scope of the work we do in Northamptonshire.
National research statistics and our own experiences tell us that women are the main victims of domestic abuse. However, since our beginnings back in 1976, we now provide a more varied and comprehensive service to all members of the community. In addition to our support programmes and emergency refuge for women victims, we offer help for children who have witnessed domestic abuse, young perpetrators, male victims or perpetrators and bespoke 1-2-1 sessions tailored to the clients’ individual needs. In August this year, we will be opening an emergency refuge for male victims and a specialist refuge for women with substance misuse issues.
Our new name and identity will remove any potential barriers to men in contacting us for help and also fully represents the broad spectrum of the work we do across Northamptonshire. Over the years the service has evolved and grown but our belief will always be the same – that nobody should live in fear, whatever their community. Because of this, we will continue to work to achieve effective responses to domestic abuse.
Our story. From Women’s Aid to NDAS:
1975 – Interested feminists started campaigning for support for abused women.
1976 – Northampton Women’s Aid formed as an unincorporated association, first refuge opened, staffed by volunteers.
1980 – First paid employee appointed by the organisation.
1982 – Northampton Women’s Aid becomes a registered charity.
1985 – Northampton Women’s Aid Advice Centre opened at Junction 7, Hazelwood Road.
1989 – Second refuge open by Northampton Women’s Aid.
1990 – Funding received for an Asian Support Worker.
1992 – Three new refuges opened including an Asian women’s refuge.
1993 – NWA receives the Heinz Community Award – new Advice Centre opened at 13 Guildhall Road, Northampton.
1994 – Daventry refuge opened.
Advice sessions started at the Abbey Centre in Daventry.
NWA receives Northampton Borough Council’s Major’s own award for “Outstanding Service to the Community”.
NWA co-organised the first Northampton Annual National Conference on Domestic Violence.
NWA become a company limited by guarantee.
1995 – National Lottery Charities Board awards funds for a three year counselling project.
1998 – Northampton Women’s Aid 21st Anniversary Year. A year of fundraising totalling £20,000 for the beneficiaries of the charity.
1999 – BBC Children In Need awarded £50,000 for a three year post for an additional full-time children’s worker.
2001 – Funding received from Kettering Borough Council to facilitate the opening of Kettering refuge.
Funding received for Aftercare and Outreach Service in Daventry & South Northamptonshire.
Adaption of one refuge for access by disabled people.
2003 – Work initiated with multi-agency group to establish specialist refuge accommodation for women who are victims of domestic
abuse and who also have substance misuse issues.
2004 – Work begins to establish refuge accommodation in Corby.
2005 – Home Office funding secured for counselling project – a joint initiative with the Rape and Incest Crisis Centre.
2006 – DAAT funding received for refurbishment of specialist refuge accommodation.
2007 – Advice Centre re-located to Hazelwood Road.
Specialist refuge for substance misuse opens in November.
Refuge provision in Corby opens in December.
Planning application made for new refuge build in Corby.
2008 – Freedom training programme launched in Northampton, Towcester, Brackley & Daventry.
Two training courses “I Can Make a Difference” and Why Doesn’t She Leave?” developed by NWA volunteer.
New refuge build in Corby opens in October providing 6 self-contained flats and communal areas.
2010 – Azaadi Group for Asian women established.
2011/12 – NWA, WENWA & NVCFR work collaboratively to prepare to deliver Northamptonshire domestic abuse services.
2013/14 – NWA, Service Six, Family Action and NAYC prepare to tender for NCC Early Help and Prevention Children and Families
Supporting Services Contract.
2014 – NWA, Service Six, Family Action & NAYC successful in tender for 9 out of 10 of the locality contracts.
Media campaign launched to raise the awareness of refuges being at risk of closure.
2015 – DCLG funding for refuge support costs secured for 12 months.
2016 – Process begins to change the name of service.
2017 – NWA becomes Northamptonshire Domestic Abuse Service (NDAS).
Charity number: 1070741, Company Number: 2978532
Registered address: 13-15 Hazelwood Rd
Northampton, NN1 1LG