Female Friends By The Sea
  • Domestic abuse occurs across all groups in society, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, sexuality, wealth or geography. The majority of victims are women and children although research is highlighting the prevalence and context of male victims. Recent PSNI statistics show that 86% of perpetrators of domestic abuse were male and 12% (were female. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women will suffer domestic violence at some point in their lives.

  • Domestic abuse can happen to anyone who is in a relationship. It is a problem that cuts across a cross-section of society and research shows that LGBTQIA+ victims are disproportionately affected. LGBTQIA+ Victims and Survivors experience similar forms of domestic abuse, harassment and stalking as heterosexual cisgender people. However, there are specific barriers to them accessing support and additional elements of abuse that they face. LGBTQIA+ support organisations are victim and community-led organisations. LGBTQIA+ service providers can provide free and confidential advice and support for people who have experienced domestic abuse, hate crime or sexual violence. They can also signpost to additional services such as counselling, peer support, housing and sexual health services.

  • While it is recognised and documented in research and statistics that the majority of domestic abuse is perpetrated by men against women, it is also acknowledged and becoming increasingly recognised that men can experience abuse from female partners and in male gay relationships. It can be difficult for men to acknowledge they are experiencing domestic violence and the stigma and shame attached to the issue can be a huge barrier in accessing support.

    The 24 Hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline (managed by Nexus) can provide telephone support and can sign post to other agencies that can help.

  • Research has shown that approximately 1 in 4 women have or currently experience domestic abuse. It is therefore very common.  PSNI statistics  highlight the prevalence of the issue in Northern Ireland.

    Domestic abuse is not just a problem for Northern Ireland, statistics indicate that domestic violence is a worldwide problem. Research shows domestic violence occurs in all social, economic, religious and cultural groups. According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, one in every three women in the world has experienced sexual, physical, emotional or other abuse in her lifetime.

    The World Health Organization (WHO), in a global study of 24,000 women, Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women reports that 10-69% women from around the world stated they had been physically assaulted by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. The report also shows that 40-70% of female murder victims from around the world were killed by an intimate partner.

    UNICEF reports that between 20 – 50% of women around the world have suffered violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Global statistics provided in this report indicate a high prevalence of domestic violence no matter which country we focus on.

  • The effects are domestic violence are wide ranging and will differ for all victims. In some cases the impact of domestic abuse is fatal.

    The obvious physical effects of domestic abuse can include, physical injury such as cuts, bruising, broken bones etc. What is often not so obvious is the emotional suffering which can occur as a direct result of domestic violence. Such emotional suffering can have devastating effects on a victim which are prevalent in both the short and long term. Victims of domestic violence will experience a range of emotions, including fear, confusion, uncertainty, worry for their children, instability and anxiety all of which make it increasingly difficult to leave the relationship.

    Research has shown that domestic violence causes lasting damage to a victim’s physical and mental health, affecting all areas of their lives, including work, relationships, social life, confidence and self-esteem etc. Recovering from the impact of domestic violence is a process which can be a long and painful journey

  • Domestic abuse is deeply rooted in issues of power, control and inequality. There are many myths  surrounding domestic violence, including that is caused by:

    • Alcohol or drug misuse
    • Mental illness
    • Stress in work or at home
    • Earlier experiences of violence or abuse

    The reality is, however that it is caused by a misuse of power by one person (usually male) over another. Behaviour is always a choice and those who perpetrate domestic abuse do so to get what they want and to gain control. While responsibility for abuse lies ultimately with the perpetrator, culture and unwritten rules in society can help to perpetuate domestic abuse by encouraging and condoning beliefs about gender roles and by promoting inequality. Deep rooted traditions and values can contribute to the existence of patriarchal views that encourage misogynistic beliefs about entitlements to power and control in relationships. Perpetrators of domestic abuse may try to minimise or deny their behaviour. They may even try to blame it on the victim. It is important to remember however, domestic abuse is a chosen intentional and persistent behaviour, the only one to blame is the perpetrator.

  • Leaving an abusive relationship is a very long and difficult process. This is made difficult for a range of reasons. If someone is experiencing domestic abuse, they may:

    • feel frightened and uncertain what the future will hold.
    • feel frightened for the children
    • feel it is in their best interests to stay in the family home.
    • feel ashamed and reluctant to tell or seek help.
    • have such low confidence and self-esteem that making decisions is a confusing and extremely difficult task.
    • be isolated from family and friends and feel they has no one to turn to.
    • be worried about financial security if they leave.
    • not have information on services available.
    • have received a negative response, when they have reached out to someone for support in the past.
    • be too exhausted to take on any life changes or major decisions.
    • may still have feelings of love for their partner and fond memories of how things used to be.
    • hope and believe that things will get better.

    It is important to remember, leaving is a process and not an event. Society has a responsibility to support women who make that difficult decision. All agencies can play a role in providing support during a woman and children’s help seeking process. A positive initial response is crucial. Women and children need to be believed, supported and encouraged to take positive steps for their own safety and well-being.

    Unfortunately leaving does not always stop the violence and many women are still exposed to abuse when they leave the relationship. Research has shown that women can be at higher risk during this time. The British Crime Survey found that 37% of women studied who had left their abusive partner reported that the violence continued. Research by Lees (2000) highlighted that women are at greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner.

  • Criminal and civil law offers important protections for individuals who are experiencing domestic abuse. A victim of domestic abuse has certain legal rights and protections.

  • There may be many reasons you suspect this, you may have heard noises which have alarmed you or you may have seen incidents or injuries which have caused you suspicion. It can be very difficult to know what to do for the best in this situation, especially if you do not know the person well. You may feel reluctant to raise your concerns with your neighbour, you may feel it is none of your business, you may also fear that if you get involved it may exacerbate the situation.

    It is important to remember your neighbour may be in danger. If you hear an incident and think your neighbour and any children living in the household are in danger, you could contact the police. If you are concerned for the safety and well being of the children, you could consider contacting the gateway team of your local Health and Social Care Trust or NSPCC.

    If you know your neighbour well, you could increase contact. You may find that as trust increases your neighbour may open up to you more. You can then encourage them to seek support in the ways outlined above.

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