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About domestic abuse

Sometimes you will hear the phrase domestic abuse, sometimes domestic violence. They mean the same thing. Domestic abuse includes a range of abusive behaviours which are used by an abusive partner, or ex-partner or family member to maintain power and control over you.

Domestic abuse is not a one off incident but is an on-going pattern of behaviour. Once begun, the abuse and/or violence will repeat itself and will often get worse over a period of time.

  • Physical violence - such as hitting, punching, kicking, strangulation, suffocation etc.
  • Psychological and emotional abuse - calling you names, intimidation, insulting, isolating you from friends and family, denying abuse, treating you as inferior, threatening to harm the children or take them away, hurting pets, undermining confidence, making racist remarks, making you feel unattractive, threatening suicide if you leave.
  • Sexual abuse - such as rape, indecent assault, taking explicit photos or videos against your will or any other sexual act that you do not want to do.
  • Financial abuse - controlling access to money, cars and other personal belongings, running up debts in your name etc.
  • Stalking or harassment - such as following their victim, appearing at their home or workplace, repeatedly making phone calls, sending texts and emails.

This abusive behaviour may occur in a variety of relationships: married, separated, divorced, living together, dating, heterosexual, gay or lesbian, child on parent abuse and elder abuse.

Domestic abuse also includes Forced Marriage, so called Honour Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation.

Forced Marriage

Source: YouTube

A marriage must be entered into with the full and free consent of both people. Everyone involved should feel that they have a choice. Forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage which is entered into freely by both people.

You might be put under both physical pressure (when someone threatens to or actually does hurt you), or emotional pressure (for example, when someone makes you feel like you’re bringing shame on your family) to get married.

Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights, and a form of domestic abuse and child abuse. If you or someone you know is being forced into a marriage, help and advice is available.

Following a public consultation, the Prime Minister announced that the Government intended to make forcing someone to marry a criminal offence in England and Wales; and to strengthen the civil law in England and Wales by making the breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order a criminal offence. These proposals were part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, which received Royal Assent on 13 March 2014 (“the 2014 Act”). The new offences came into force on 16 June 2014.

Section 121 of ‘the 2014 Act’ provides that:

  • A person commits an offence in England and Wales if he or she

(a) uses violence, threats or any other form of coercion for the purpose of causing another person to enter into the marriage, and

(b) believes, or ought to reasonably believe, that the conduct may cause the other person to enter into the marriage without free and full consent.

  • In relation to a victim who lacks capacity to consent to marriage, the offence under subsection (1) is capable of being committed by any conduct carried out for the purpose of causing the victim to enter into a marriage (whether or not the conduct amounts to violence, threats or any other form of coercion).
  • A person commits an offence under the law of England and Wales if he or she- practices any form of deception with the intention of causing another person to leave the United Kingdom, and intends the other person to be subjected to conduct outside the UK that is an offence under subsection (1) or would be an offence under that subsection if the victim were in England and Wales.

The maximum penalty for the forced marriage offences is seven years imprisonment in a
criminal court.

Forced Marriage Protection Orders

Forced Marriage Protection Orders can be sought under section 4A of the Family Law Act 1996[1] (“the 1996 Act”). The 1996 Act makes provision for protecting both children and adults at risk of being forced into marriage and offers protection for those who have already been forced into marriage. The terms of orders issued under the 1996 Act can be tailored to meet the specific needs of victims.
Under section 120 of the 2014 Act, the maximum penalty for breach of a forced marriage protection order is five years imprisonment.
The Government’s Forced Marriage Unit has updated the statutory guidance “The Right to Choose” issued under s.63 Q(1) Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007 and also the multi-agency practice guidelines in light of the new legislation.
The guidelines can be found at https://www.gov.uk/forced-marriage

Key Statistics (source: Foreign and Common Wealth Office)

  • The FMU gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1302 cases2.
  • Where the age was known, 15% of cases involved victims3 below 16 years, 25% involved victims aged 16-17, 33% involved victims aged 18-21, 15% involved victims aged 22-25, 7% involved victims aged 26-30, 3% involved victims aged 31 or over.
  • 82% of cases involved female victims and 18% involved male victims.
  • The FMU handled cases involving 74 different countries4, including Pakistan (42.7%), India (10.9%), Bangladesh (9.8%), Afghanistan (2.8%), Somalia (2.5%), Iraq (1.5%), Nigeria (1.1%), Saudi Arabia (1.1%), Yemen (1%), Iran (0.8%), Tunisia (0.8%), The Gambia (0.7%), Egypt (0.6%) and Morocco (0.4%). The origin was unknown in 5.4% of cases.
  • Within the UK the regional distribution was: London 24.9%, West Midlands 13.6%, South East 9.9%, North West 9.3%, Yorkshire and Humberside 6.8%, East Midlands 4.2%, East Anglia 3.5%, Scotland 2.9%, North East 2%, South West 1.6%, Wales 1.6%, Northern Ireland 0.3%. The region was unknown in 19.4% of cases.
  • 97 cases involved victims with disabilities.
  • 12 involved victims who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). The Forced Marriage Unit website contains practical guidance information for victims and practitioners https://www.gov.uk/forced-marriage

The Forced Marriage Unit Facebook page contains a large amount of information regarding their
advertising campaigns. https://www.facebook.com/forcedmarriage

Honour Based Violence

Honour Based Violence is a fundamental abuse of Human Rights. There is no honour in the commission of murder, rape, kidnap and the many other acts, behaviour and conduct which make up “violence in the name of so-called honour”.

It is a collection of practices, which are used to control behaviour within families or other social groups to protect perceived cultural and religious beliefs and/or honour. Such violence can occur when perpetrators perceive that a relative has shamed the family and / or community by breaking their honour code.

Women are predominantly (but not exclusively) the victims of ‘so called honour based violence’, which is used to assert male power in order to control female autonomy and sexuality.

“Honour Based Violence” can be distinguished from other forms of violence, as it is often committed with some degree of approval and/or collusion from family and/or community members.

Examples may include murder, un-explained death (suicide), fear of or actual forced marriage, controlling sexual activity, domestic abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse), child abuse, rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, threats to kill, assault, harassment, forced abortion. This list is not exhaustive.

Such crimes cut across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities. They transcend national and international boundaries.

Murdered by my Father image

 

BBC Three aired a drama regarding Honour Based Violence in March this year which is still available to view via www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p03nnns9/murdered-by-my-father

 

 

Female Genital Mutilation

The following video clip could be distressing to some, however, it’s aim is to raise awareness that FGM is not to be tolerated. If you are affected by this subject and need support please either call 0800 028 3550 or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

Source: Safehands.org/youtube

Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision) refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.

It has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. However, the true extent is unknown due to the ‘hidden’ nature of the crime.

The girls may be taken to their countries of origin so that FGM can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing them time to ‘heal’ before they return to school. There are also worries that some girls may have FGM performed in the UK.

FGM usually takes place before puberty, between the ages of 4 and 12 years. However, it may take place in infancy or shortly before a woman is married.
Cultures practice FGM for a variety of reasons. It is considered a rite of passage for girls and makes them accepted members of their community. This conveys higher status to the girl’s family and makes her eligible for a better marriage.

If you have, or know someone who has, experienced FMG, you should advise them to seek medical treatment as FMG can cause a number of medical complications.

If you become aware that a young person is being prepared for FMG, you should report the matter to Children and Young People Services or to the Police.

Supporting materials:

Female Genital Mutilation Multi-Agency Practice GuidelinesA Statement Opposing Female Genital Mutilation Nov 14Female Genital Mutilation The Facts Leaflet

Multi Agency Practice Guidelines on Forced Marriage can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/handling-cases-of-forced-marriage-multi-agency-practice-guidelines-english

The ‘Statement Opposing Female Genital Mutilation’ Leaflet can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-opposing-female-genital-mutilation

‘FGM - The Facts’ Leaflet with information on FGM for members of the public can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/female-genital-mutilation-resource-pack/female-genital-mutilation-resource-pack
Or hard copies can be ordered from the Home Office storage and distribution centre homeoffice@prolog.gov.uk or on 0870 241 4680 (press ‘0’ on your keypad to speak to the Home Office publications team). You need to give them the product code: FGM-THE-FACTS, the quantity you would like to order, along with your delivery address.

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  • Image of paper people with a backdrop of the world

    Who suffers domestic abuse

    Anyone can experience domestic abuse regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or religious group, class, disability or lifestyle. Domestic abuse also affects children, who are witness to the abuse.

  • Image of paper people

    Abusers tactics

    Abusers are often very charming and convincing to everyone. This often has the effect of making the victim think ‘it must be me, it must be my fault’, especially since the abuser is usually telling them it is.

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Last updated: 13 June 2016

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