We all have a role to play in tackling domestic abuse says MP - The Leamington Observer

We all have a role to play in tackling domestic abuse says MP

Leamington Editorial 18th Feb, 2024   0

RECENTLY, the Warwickshire Director of Public Health’s (DPH) Annual Report for 2023 was published, which focuses on the impacts of domestic abuse and violence against women and girls (VAWG). The report underscores the importance of recognising domestic abuse as a product of a variety of different factors, at both an individual and societal level, in order to successfully prevent it.

Reflecting on the role that we can all play in reducing domestic abuse, we all need to look out for, and report where appropriate, coercive and controlling behaviour, such as isolation, exclusive control over finances, and excessive monitoring of activities. Such behaviour can now constitute a criminal offence.

Concerningly, the report explains the ripple effects of domestic abuse, in which harms go beyond the physical, mental, and sexual. For instance, the educational attainment of children living in domestic abuse households is likely to be lower, survivors can become homeless after fleeing from the violence, and victims are frequently absent from work or school, all of which highlights the societal importance of preventing domestic abuse and supporting victims of it.

At a national level, significant steps have been taken. For example, the Domestic Abuse Act, passed in 2021, has created a legal definition of domestic abuse to provide clarity that domestic abuse can be financial, verbal and emotional as well as physical and sexual and that critically it is about patterns of abuse over time. As part of this definition, children are explicitly recognised as victims if they witness abuse. It is good news that the controlling or coercive behaviour offence has been extended to include abuse where perpetrators and victims no longer live together, as those who leave abusive ex-partners can often be subjected to sustained or increased controlling or coercive behaviour post-separation.

As a criminal barrister by training, it is particularly important for me that domestic abuse victims can access justice and the protection of the law. Increasingly, the principles of Specialist Domestic Abuse Courts are embedded across all magistrates’ courts in England and Wales, which bring together highly trained personnel and support services for victims.

Helpfully, the report investigates the opportunities across Warwickshire County Council’s services and partnerships to support victims of domestic abuse. If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can contact Refuge (Warwickshire Domestic Violence Service) on either 0800 408 1552 or https://refuge.org.uk/i-need-help-now/refuge-domestic-violence-service-warwickshire. If you are concerned that someone you know might be a victim of domestic abuse, you can report your concerns anonymously to Crimestoppers at http://crimestoppers-org.uk/keeping-safe/personal-safety/domestic-abuse.

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