What is Domestic Abuse/Violence?
Domestic abuse/violence is physical, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial violence that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and which forms a pattern of controlling behaviour.
Domestic violence is about power and control. The abuser wants to dominate their partner and wants all the power in the relationship. They use violence in order to establish and maintain this authority and power. Perpetrators of domestic abuse/violence are usually not sick or deranged, but have learned abusive, manipulative techniques and behaviours that allow them to dominate and control others and obtain the responses they desire.
An abuser will often restrict a person’s outlets, preventing them from maintaining employment, friends, and family ties. This isolates the partner, leaving them with no support systems, and creating dependency. Abusers also limit a person’s options by not allowing access to bank accounts, credit cards or other sources of money or financial independence.
Perpetrators of domestic abuse/violence may constantly criticize, belittle and humiliate their partners. This results in their feelings of worthlessness, of feeling ugly and stupid. This affects a partner's perception of themselves. Low self-esteem may contribute to partners feeling that they deserve the abuse and feeling unworthy of better treatment.
How common is Domestic Abuse/Violence
At least 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experience domestic abuse/violence in their lifetime.
Less than half of all incidents are reported to the police, but they still receive one domestic violence call every minute in the UK.
Who are the victims?
Domestic abuse/violence occurs in a range of relationships including heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships, and also within extended families.
The majority of victims of domestic abuse/violence reporting the abuse are women and children, and women are also considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of violence, and sexual abuse.
People may experience domestic abuse/violence regardless of ethnicity, religion, class, age, sexuality, gender, disability or lifestyle
Who are the perpetrators?
While the public may think of domestic violence abusers as out of control, unhinged, and unpredictable, the contrary is most often true. Use of psychological, emotional, and physical abuse intermingled with periods of respite, love, and happiness are deliberate coercive tools used to generate submission.
Abusers come from all walks of life, from any ethnic group, religion, class or neighbourhood, and of any age.
Abusers choose to behave violently to get what they want and gain control. Their behaviour may originate from a sense of entitlement which is often supported by sexist, racist, homophobic and other discriminatory attitudes.
Whilst the risks involved in remaining in an abusive relationship may be very high, simply leaving the relationship does not necessarily mean that the violence will stop. In fact, the period when a victim is planning or making their exit, is often the most dangerous time for them and any children involved.
Abusers may violently assault, and then minutes later offer words of regret. Many will buy gifts of flowers, chocolates and other presents in order to win favour and forgiveness. This creates a very confusing environment for the partner. Abusers may say they will never harm their partners again, and promise to obtain help or counselling. Often, these promises are only made to prevent victims from leaving. Without getting help, the violence will most likely recur.
*If you are considering or would like to leave an abusive relationship, please consider contacting ARCH North Staffs for more information and help (see Links section)
Domestic violence affects not only those abused, but witnesses, family members, co-workers, friends, and the wider community. Children who witness domestic violence are victims themselves and growing up witnessing violence predisposes them to social and physical problems. Constant exposure to violence at home and abusive role models teaches these children that violence is a normal way of life and places them at risk of becoming society's next generation of victims and abusers.
When there are children in the household, the majority witness the violence that is occurring, and in 80% of cases, they are in the same or the next room. In about half of all domestic violence situations, the children are also being directly abused themselves.
Sexual ‘Violence’ within Domestic Abuse
Sexual violence includes a range of different behaviours, many of which, such as sexual assault or rape, are crimes.
Sexual abuse is usually a component of domestic violence - for example, partners and former partners may use force, threats or intimidation to engage in sexual activity. They may taunt or use degrading treatment related to sexuality, force the use of pornography, or force their partners to have sex with other people. Rape and sexual assault are crimes, whether or not they occur within marriage, between partners or ex-partners. Sometimes abusers will refuse to engage sexually to intimidate and humiliate their partner, or will use loving and tender behaviours to ‘make up’ after violence or aggression.
All of these aspects come under the definition of ‘Sexual Control’, and Savana counsellors are all trained around the issues of Domestic Abuse/Violence. This means that someone wishing to access counselling for these issues will be made welcome at Savana
Who else can I speak to?
ARCH North Staffs specialise in working with victims/survivors of Domestic Violence, and they house Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVA) so if you think that you might be a victim, then their web address and telephone number can be found on the Links section of our website.