Published: 3 March 2015
A recent study, conducted by domestic abuse charity SafeLives reveals that those who have suffered at the hands of violent partners are abused for about 3 years before finally seeking help, with some victims experiencing up to 50 incidents during that period.
Statistics from the SafeLives database highlighted that almost 1 in 4 "high risk" victims have visited A&E with injuries of a violent nature and in some cases, their injuries were not taken seriously until they had visited accident and emergency more than 15 times.
Diana Barran, who is the Chief Executive of SafeLives (previously Caada) has stated that no one is spotting domestic abuse even when victims, and their children, are visiting many different public agencies. She goes on to say that this is causing victims to live in constant fear for their own safety as well as the wellbeing of their children.
More worryingly, SafeLives predict there are more than 100,000 domestic violence victims at risk of being seriously injured or even murdered if people are not detecting and dealing with these incidents earlier, with more than 90% being women.
The study also shows that victims are living in an abusive relationship for nearly 3 years, with 75% of victims reporting the incidents to the police and just under a quarter visiting A&E as a result of a violent relationship.
Lambeth GP Francis Wedgewood expressed her concerns and her experiences first hand, "Domestic violence is still a much hidden problem and in my experience women do not disclose if they are not asked. We need to get better at asking people directly if they need help." Francis provides training on domestic violence to health workers through a national project called the Iris project.
One quarter of cases recorded by SafeLives include victims who had a child under 3 years old when the abuse took place and it is estimated that around 130,000 are living in an abusive environment, with more than 60% being harmed directly.
Former solicitor and current police and crime commissioner for Northumberland Vera Baird states, "Domestic abuse is not a one-off violent attack. It is deliberate long-term abuse of coercion to control every part of your partner’s life. Violence, sexual abuse, financial control, constant criticism, isolating from family and friends are all familiar tools."
"People in that situation do not find it easy to speak and those who could help need to be alert. The alternative is what these figures suggest: victims and their families locked unnecessarily into cruelty and ill-treatment for years."
The main issue identified by the survey is that too many people are scared of coming forward and choose to suffer in silence for far too long. It is clear that more needs to be done to help friends and families of the victims to spot the signs of domestic abuse earlier in the relationship and before the victim is seriously hurt.
Domestic abuse is a serious matter that can destroy the lives of families and have a negative long term impact on children, so awareness needs to be raised so that victims have the courage to come forward and put a stop to it before it is too late.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship then K J Smith Solicitors can help. Our family law specialists can act on your behalf to protect you and your children from continued abuse. For more information or to arrange a free consultation with one of our team, contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley-on-Thames), 020 7070 0330 (Central London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor) or 01256 584000 (Basingstoke).