If you would like to help stop domestic abuse, here is a post to help. The recent Coronavirus outbreak has also brought this subject to the fore, with a 25% increase in calls to domestic abuse helplines, no doubt due to women (and some men) being locked up together with their abusers. This post tries to cover how to prevent domestic abuse, how to help people who are ‘victims’, and also how to help those who are the abusers (without helping them, the issue will never disappear).
The post also covers info on how to help children and animals, both of whom can also suffer in households with domestic abuse.
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is not just physical violence. It can involve stalking, taking away the freedom of a spouse of other person (like opening post and hiding bank details) right through to not allowing other people to leave home.
According to experts, the main keyword is ‘control’. Anyone who domestically abuses another, seeks to control the person and usually stop that person from leaving the abusive situation.
Many of us may wonder why people would stay. But often there are children, pets and even elderly relatives involved (who could suffer if they leave). Others have their self-esteem so battered, they don’t believe they are worthy to go anywhere else (and in many cases there is nowhere to go). And others are plain terrified, and don’t know what to do, as they have no support network. It’s very common, with an average 100 calls every hour to police forces.
How to Prevent Domestic Abuse
It’s obviously not easy, as a lot of this is a take on personal responsibility and the abused having to make ways to get out (and take others at risk with them). But experts do offer some tips:
- Be alert of signs. If you are in a new relationship and someone appears jealous or controlling, don’t be flattered. This could be the telltale signs.
- Know who to call. Make sure that you have local refuge numbers (and know how to cover your tracks online). Or also know these numbers if you work with vulnerable people.
- Local businesses and government can help, through effective policy. One includes being serious about enabling women (in particular those without good English) to learn and train to get good jobs, to become economically independent. A big reason why many don’t leave domestic abuse situations, is due to not being able to earn money or fund another place to live.
Help Victims of Domestic Abuse
These charities offer help and support. Give them a call or live chat/email (if safe to do so). In an emergency, obviously contact the police.
- Women’s Aid
- The Government Website
- National Domestic Abuse Helpline
- Woman’s Trust
- Mankind & Respect Men’s Advice Line
- GALOP (LGBT)
- Shelter (housing advice)
- International Domestic Abuse Help (global list)
If you have an old phone, you can donate it to Three Connected, and they will pass it onto charities so that someone in need can use it. This can be a domestic abuse victim, someone at risk of homelessness or someone leaving the Military.
How to Help Domestic Abusers
- Respect is the national charity that offers help to those who are abusers. As well as helping male and young victims of abuse, it offers a confidential helpline, email and webchat service for those looking for help to stop. They have men and women, in mixed-sex or same-same relationships, as well as concerned friends and family.
- Coaching Boys into Men is a free kit that you can download, if you work in education or the community. In a US trial involving several schools and 2000 students, young men/boys who took the program ended up all being more respectful to women and girls, and fostered a healthy balance.
- Boycott the lads’ mags (and the women-hating magazines too). All of these just perpetuate a notion that women are objects to be ridiculed or bullied. Same for TV. Even ‘quality programs’ like Law & Order SVU regularly portray awful depictions of rape and murder. If these programs didn’t exist, there would be no template on which to enact.
Help Children of Domestic Abuse
Obviously for children, the situation is even worse. Children at risk can call Childline for help, on the freephone number. You can also chat online 1-to-1 with a counsellor, and live message online. There is also information if you need to call at night, call from another country or need to speak in a different language.
Where To Get Help In Other Countries
Help Animals of Domestic Abuse
Many animals suffer in households suffering domestic abuse. And many victims don’t leave, as they can’t take their pets. If you can, the first thing to do if safe to do so, is to get the paperwork in order, so that you ‘own’ the pet, if that’s possible. That way, you can legally take pets with you. Or if not possible, contact the police and RSPCA.
There are charities to help. They mostly can foster pets if you have left a domestic abuse situation. Pets stay at an undisclosed address (usually in a different area) until you sort yourself out. You don’t see the pets, but are kept updated on their well-being:
- Dog’s Trust Freedom Project
- Cats Protection Paws Protect
- Refuge 4 Pets (Devon & Cornwall)
- Endeavour Project (north west)
- Equation (Nottinghamshire)
- Pet Fostering Service Scotland
- Safe Place for Pets (US/Canada)
- Australia & New Zealand
Starting a Safe Havens Animal Program (PDF) is a free downloadable guide by a major US animal welfare charity. This excellent resource covers everything you need to know, and even includes sample forms that you can adapt to UK law, with help of local legal experts.
AniCare is another US project, run by experts on the links between violent to animals and humans (most serial killers start with animals). Designed to stop animal abuse at source, professionals can purchase the AniCare Handbook (designed to prevent and reverse animal violence) and there is also a version for children, who have participated in (or witnessed) animal abuse. These resources can ensure the same thing does not happen.
Big Bear Was Not the Same is a children’s book with a family therapist to encourage children to talk through trauma. Little Bear loves the woods, his home and going on adventure with his best friend, Big Bear. He is so strong and brave and protects Little Bear to keep him safe. But after being caught in a forest fine, he runs, roars and freezes in fear, when ordinary things happen in the woods that remind him of that traumatic day. How can Little Bear be a good friend? This introduces readers to common feelings of fear, anxiety and anger that follow a traumatic event, and how to have empathy and compassion for themselves, and for loved ones experiencing the effects of trauma.