We must acknowledge domestic violence in the public space in order to combat it
It is important to shine a spotlight on an area that still wounds, undermines and destroys women, children – and yes – even men. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse at the hands of women or other men and have contacted Nour for help. According to data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, at least 4 per cent of men aged 16-59 experienced domestic abuse in 2014-2015.
Domestic violence is alive and plaguing our society. Legislation has progressed from the 1850s when a man was legally allowed to beat his wife as long as he used a ‘rod not thicker than his thumb’. We have also moved past 1895 when hitting a wife was only legal between 7am and 10pm to avoid noise disturbance at night. We have lived through gradual changes in social views about violence towards women, with the opening of safe houses for women and children who are fleeing domestic abuse, and our legal system that now recognises rape within marriage as a criminal act.
We have come a long way, but there is further to go. Refuge, an organisation committed to supporting victims of domestic abuse, has released statistics showing that two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner – or one woman every three days (Office of National Statistics, 2015). One in four women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and 8 per cent will suffer domestic violence in any given year (Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013-2014). These numbers tell us that although we have won some important battles, we have not yet won the war.
But what more can we do? Firstly, we can talk about it. We can reveal the evidence and uncover the pain, humiliation and loss that victims of domestic violence experience. We can highlight the fact that many of these women, if they weren’t busy trying to survive, would be strong and supportive members of our communities. They would help to create the fabric of our schools and neighbourhoods instead of cowering behind their front doors. We need to educate that DV is a crime and it is wrong. By remaining silent, means that we accept that this is normal.
Let’s throw open those closed doors and expose the crimes being committed. Let’s educate girls and women – and let’s also educate men. Let’s discuss the problem, the damage it inflicts, as well as strategies and methods for finding support. Let’s help to empower victims of domestic violence and abuse by inviting them to speak out. Let’s help them to take control of their own lives and futures again. Let’s also help by looking for warning signs in the lives of our sisters, daughters, mothers and friends.
It is also important to realise that children too can be affected by domestic violence. These children can become traumatised by what they have seen and experienced which can affect their development and later life.
Domestic abuse is based on control and power. A perpetrator may exhibit some or all of the following toward his partner:
– Obsessive jealousy
– Controlling behaviour (controlling her money, time, friends, how she dresses and acts)
– The desire to isolate her from family and friends
– Mood swings
– Constant criticisms and lack of respect for her in pubic, as well as in private
– Threats of violence
– Escalating arguments
– Assigning blame to others
– Denying wrongdoing
– Using children as pawns
– Destroying or harming possessions or pets
If we find any of these warning signs, let’s act. Before it’s too late.
We have recently been given the right to investigate the criminal history of prospective partners using ‘Clare’s Law’. In 2009, 36-year-old Clare Brown was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton. Appleton had a history of violence against women, which she was unaware of. Following her murder, Clare’s father campaigned for a new law and won, so in 2014, in England and Wales, the ‘Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme’ (‘Clare’s Law’) was implemented. This means that women, their friends and their families have a right to ask authorities to reveal information about a new partner who may have a history of violence.
Despite women achieving breakthroughs in the fight for gender equality, it’s too early to sit back and relax. When victims of domestic violence and abuse feel free to walk out of their homes and seek help from their communities, we will have won an important battle. When perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse are no longer able to hide, we will have won another. And when women are valued, empowered, and applauded for creating their own futures, we will have won the most important battle of all.
Where to find help:
Our organisation, Nour, is a charity which aims to tackle domestic violence in the Muslim community by using Islamic literature from both the Qur’an and the Prophetic teachings as a platform to refute and condemn domestic violence.
Refuge has been empowering women who are victims of domestic abuse for many years. Their aim is to rid the world of domestic violence and make it a safe place for women and children. In 1971, they opened the first safe house in the world for escaping victims of abuse.
Women’s Aid is a national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. Established in 1974, the charity provides more than 300 local lifesaving services to women and children nationwide. They also run a 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
Men can also experience domestic violence at the hands of women or a man. The Men’s Advice Line is specifically for male victims of domestic violence and abuse.
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