In the UK, an estimated 2.1 million people experience some form of domestic abuse each year – around 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population).
In my role as Domestic and Sexual Violence Coordinator for Bournemouth Borough Council it is evident to me that we, as a society, have a long road to travel to eradicate domestic abuse and violence. The facts speak for themselves.
In England and Wales:
- The police receive a domestic violence-related call every 30 seconds; yet it is estimated that less than 24% of domestic violence crime is reported to the police
- The overwhelming majority of domestic abuse cases are not prosecuted; and fewer than 10% of incidents reported to police will end in conviction
- Women experience domestic violence with much more intensity – 89% of people who experience four or more incidents of domestic violence are women
- Two women are killed each week by a current or former partner
- It is estimated that around three women a week commit suicide as a result of domestic violence
- 62% of children in households where domestic violence is happening are also directly harmed
- One in two young women have experienced controlling behaviour in an intimate relationship
We recently took part in a series of events to mark The United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) on 25 November – a day for governments, international organisations and non-governmental organisations to raise public awareness of violence against women.
At Bournemouth Library we held a special ‘live book’ session, attended by practitioners, professionals, students, elected members and dignitaries, where visitors could speak to those with personal and professional experience. It was an engaging way to learn about the support available and to understand the dynamics of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
A drop-in event, hosted by Addaction and with the support of a drug and alcohol social worker, enabled the newly appointed Specialist Domestic Abuse Practitioner to introduce themselves and the work they do supporting people experiencing domestic abuse who are also managing potential challenges, such as mental health or substance use.
A visit to Royal Bournemouth Hospital also provided the opportunity for staff and members of the public to talk about any concerns, find out what services are available and learn about the impact and rates of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Finally, we supported the White Ribbon campaign and invited people to make a pledge to ‘never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.’ (Although it is clear that men also suffer from domestic violence, this campaign explicitly acknowledges that domestic abuse and sexual violence is, predominately, committed by men.)
It will take all of us to make a change and end domestic abuse and sexual violence. However, working alongside many experienced, passionate and committed individuals through training, education, direct work and by consciousness raising, I hope that we can start to make a difference. We are working together with our partners to reduce the harm caused by domestic abuse, increase the safety of those experiencing abuse and provide appropriate intervention to reduce reoffending.
Thank you for reading and for spending your time thinking about this crucial need within our community. A special thank you to everyone who has, and will, contribute to ending violence and abuse. If you would like further information, advice or support our website is a good starting point BUT if you are at immediate risk please call 999.
Domestic and Sexual Violence Coordinator for Bournemouth Borough Council