Monday, 9 July 2012

Refuge Domestic Violence Campaign #Don't Cover It Up

It's a topic that you don't hear a lot about, but one woman in four, experiences domestic violence at some point in her life. Refuge supports over 80,000 women & children each year and unfortunately in 90% of domestic violence incidents children are in the same or next room. They are the silent witnesses. The effect on them can be devastating.

Last week Refuge launched their 'Dont Cover It Up' campaign featuring YouTube sensation Lauren Luke. You can watch it here...

Lauren’s injuries may be fictitious, but domestic violence is a horrifying reality for thousands of women and children up and down the country. Two women are killed by a current or former partner every single week in England and Wales. One woman in four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life. Yet, despite this, domestic violence is still, largely, a hidden crime.

Victims of abuse often feel too afraid or ashamed to speak out and the myth that domestic violence is a private matter, to be dealt with behind closed doors, still persists. Furthermore, some types of domestic violence do not leave physical marks: the effects of emotional, psychological and financial abuse can be severe and long-lasting, even though they may be invisible to the naked eye.

Lauren Luke says: “I was shocked to read that domestic violence affects one in four women and yet it is not something we hear about all the time because I think many women are too afraid or ashamed to speak up about it. The bruising on my face for the video wasn't real but my emotions in that video were because I had a bad experience in the past with a previous boyfriend. He never physically hurt me but I did sometimes fear what would happen next if I said the wrong thing. He could be over-protective and embarrass me in front of my work colleges or friends because of his aggressive behaviour. Sometimes it was like living with a volcano which could erupt at any second - I felt I was walking on egg shells just to keep him from exploding and smashing something across the room. “To open up and be honest about something like this makes us feel weak among our friends and family, but in actual fact there is nothing weak about it. Those who are abusive behind closed doors are the ones who are weak. Back then I knew the whole situation wasn't normal but I didn't know about the help that is out there and that is why I wanted to work with Refuge - to get the message out to anyone who may need help and support that it's time to stop covering it up.”

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, says: “For too long, domestic violence has been allowed to fester in the shadows of our society. Women who are abused often feel too afraid or ashamed to speak out. People frequently turn a blind eye when they know or suspect abuse is taking place, even when the victim is a loved one. This must end. Lauren Luke’s video sends a powerful message: domestic violence is a crime and it must be exposed. If you are being abused, you are not alone. Reach out for support - organisations like Refuge can help you stay safe. If a friend or loved one is being abused, don’t stay silent. Don’t ignore it. Don’t cover it up.”

Recognising abuse
Domestic violence is caused by an abuser’s desire to gain power and control over their partner. Abusers use a range of different tactics – physical, emotional, sexual, financial – to achieve this. This list may help you to identify whether you are experiencing domestic violence:

Are you afraid of your partner?
Do you feel isolated?
Does he cut you off from family and friends?
Is he jealous and possessive?
Does he humiliate or insult you?
Does he verbally abuse you?
Does he say you are useless and couldn’t cope without him?
Does he physically hurt you?
Does he shove, slap, punch or kick you?
Has he threatened to hurt you or people close to you?
Does he constantly criticise you?
Does he have sudden changes of mood which dominate the household?
Is he charming one minute and abusive the next? Like Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde?
Does he control your money?
Do you change your behaviour to avoid triggering an attack?
Are you unsure of your own judgement?
Does he damage your possessions?
Does he smash up the furniture?
Does he threaten to harm or kill the pets?
Does he threaten to kidnap or get custody of the children?
Does he drive fast because he knows it scares you?
Does he lock you out of the house during an argument?
Does he tell you what to wear or how to do your hair?

Domestic violence takes many different forms.

Physical abuse
Physical abuse is the most recognisable form of abuse. It can range from a slap or shove to a black eye, cut lip, or broken bone. In the most extreme cases it can result in death. Physical abuse doesn’t always leave visible marks or scars. Having your hair pulled or an egg thrown at you is domestic violence too. Don’t underestimate what is happening to you. Over time the violence usually gets worse.

Emotional abuse
Many women experience domestic violence without ever being physically abused. Sometimes they’re not sure if what is happening to them is domestic violence. They worry that no-one will take them seriously if they talk about it. If you alter your behaviour because you are frightened of how your partner will react, you are being abused. Emotional abuse is an attack on your personality rather than your body. Emotional abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse. It often leads to physical violence over time.

Sexual abuse

Your partner should not use force or threats to make you have sex. He should not make you perform sexual acts with which you are uncomfortable. He should not criticise your performance. If he does any of the above, he is using sex to assert his authority and control you.

Financial abuse
One of the most powerful ways a man can control his partner is by using financial abuse. There are many different forms of financial abuse, but it might include things like your partner taking your money; stopping you from working; placing all the bills or debts in your name; or monitoring how you spend money and other financial resources e.g. the telephone. If you feel that your partner is limiting your financial independence, you are experiencing financial abuse. Find out more about financial abuse.

If you are experiencing any of abuse featured above then please, please call the Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline (Run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge) on..

0808 2000 247
or vist the Get Help Now section on the refuge website.

In additoin Refuge in partnership with Red magazine are also trying to gain 100,000 signatures for thier Speak Up, Save A Life campaign. The aim of the campaign is to call for a minimum number of IDVAs to support women in every area of the UK, working alongside the police and other agencies, with the aim of preventing domestic violence and saving lives. Please sign up, speak up and save a life now...

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