Issues - domestic Violence - When love hurts
It is estimated that one in four women are likely to experience
domestic violence at some point in their lives. This accounts
for one quarter of all violent crime and can include rape,
punching or hitting, pulling hair out, threatening with a
gun or knife, or even threatening to kill her. In England
and Wales, between one and two women are killed by a violent
partner or ex-partner every week. One in three men who are
violent to their female partners are also violent to their
Domestic violence can happen to any woman, regardless of her
age, profession or class – or that of the man who beats
her. Iit can happen to anyone.
'Kyle works in IT,' says primary school teacher Marina, 24,
who finally left her boyfriend 18 months ago. 'One of the
things which drew me to him was how well-mannered and polite
he was. It made it even more of a shock the first time he
hit me. He was so sorry afterwards that I thought it was a
one-off, and he'd go back to being his normal, quiet self.
But after it happened the first time, it became what he did,
whenever we had an argument. It was like he had one personality
for the rest of the world, and one which he kept for when
he got home – that was the one who beat me and kicked
me in the stomach.'
Many woman who experience domestic violence are afraid to
speak out about what they're suffering because they think
it's their fault, or are too ashamed of what's happened to
them to admit it. 'I was so frightened of my boyfriend,' says
Amy, 20. 'If we had the slightest disagreement, he'd turn
on me, out of the blue, and attack me, really punching and
slapping, and then say, look what you've made me do to you.
I'd go round my friend's house and sit in her kitchen and
cry because I was so frightened of him, but I never dared
tell her what he'd done. I just used to say I was depressed
about our relationship. I couldn't tell anyone what was happening.
I was terrified that if he found out I'd said anything behind
his back, he'd attack me again, but I was also worried that
she'd think – like I did – that it was somehow
afraid to speak out
Amy is not alone; two out of three women who suffer domestic
violence don't tell family, friends or the authorities about
it. Research has shown that side-effects of domestic violence
include feelings of low self-esteem, hopelessness about ending
the violence and, at their most intense, severe depression
and suicidal tendencies.
There are safe spaces for women who want to leave a situation
where domestic violence is involved. There are over 250 refuges
in the UK, and a woman who chooses to go to one can move as
far away as she wants from the man who is abusing her. The
first step towards escaping violence is to call a helpline
that will immediately put the wheels in motion.
'A woman who is being abused should ring a domestic violence
helpline,' says a spokeswoman for Refuge, an organisation
which provides refuge accommodation for women in the UK. 'Someone
will listen to her, and talk her through the options. In our
refuges, people can stay as long as they need, and bring their
children if they have any. Addresses are kept secret, and
we don't allow any men to come to our refuges. The place has
to feel safe.'
But what if a young man were to be fleeing violence? 'He should
call the helpline, who would be able to help and advise him,'
says the spokeswoman.
In a refuge, the women have their own rooms, and share kitchens
and bathrooms with other women who have been in the same boat.
'We get women as young as 17,' the spokeswoman for Refuge
continues. 'Some young women come because of family violence,
either from brothers or parents, or because they've been abused
by their boyfriend. And we get women from a wide range of
Often, women go back to the man who treats them violently.
'A woman will leave several times – up to seven –
before she leaves for good. Young women especially may have
very mixed feelings – they may still love the person
who has battered them.'
The first thing a woman who is suffering violence at home
should do, advises the spokeswoman, is talk to somebody. 'If
they keep what's happening to themselves, it stops them getting
the help they need. It's important that women know that they
can go to the police for advice – they don't have to
press charges. They'll be put in touch with a refuge helpline
or group, and that's where the real support and information
will come from. They'll get help – and they'll realise
it's not just them. One in four women will experience domestic
violence in her lifetime. They're not alone.'
help and info...
PO Box 391
Bristol BS99 7WS
Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (24 hours)
The National Domestic Violence Helpline provides confidential
support, help and information to anyone experiencing (or who
has experienced) physical, emotional or sexual violence in
the home. Helpline staff can explain support options available
to you and, where necessary, refer you to a refuge, a local
Women's Aid group or other sources of help and information.
You do not need to be in an emergency situation to contact
Shelterline: 0808 800 4444 (24 hours)
A national organisation working to improve the lives of homeless
and badly housed people. Shelter offers free, professional
and independent advice to anyone with a housing problem. Shelterline
advisors will discuss your rights, explain your options and
help you take action. The Shelternet website provides information
and advice on housing issues such as renting, rights and homelessness.
2-8 Maltravers Street
London WC2R 3EE
Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (24 hours)
Provide counselling, support and welfare rights for women
and children escaping domestic violence as well as accommodation
PO Box 90 90
Stirling FK8 2SA
Helpline: 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours)
The Samaritans exists to provide confidential emotional support
to any person, irrespective of race, creed, age or status
who is in emotional distress or at risk of suicide; 24 hours
a day. Can be contacted by e-mail, telephone, writing, or
by visiting one of over 200 local branches (details are on
Rights of Women
Advice Line: 020 7251 6577 (Open Tues-Thurs 2-4pm and 7-9pm;
Text phone: 020 7490 2562
A women's voluntary organisation committed to informing, educating
and empowering women about their legal rights. Offers free,
confidential legal advice on divorce and relationship breakdown,
children and contact issues, domestic violence, sexual violence,
discrimination and lesbian parenting. Information sheets can
also be downloaded free from the website.
39 Brixton Road
London SW9 6DZ
Victim Supportline: 0845 30 30 900 (Mon-Fri 9am-9pm and Sat-Sun
Minicom: 020 7896 3776
Victim Support offers confidential support and advice to anyone
affected by a crime, no matter how long ago it happened. The
informative website features facts and guidance on the help
available for victims of crime, and you can find out details
of your local branch.
Can provide support, practical information, advice on solicitors
and local domestic abuse projects, to male sufferers of domestic
violence. Contact them through their email address.
SOLA (Survivors of Lesbian Abuse)
Telephone/Helpline: 020 7328 7389 ask for SOLA (Mon-Fri 10.30am-1pm,
Support for any woman who has experienced abuse (past or present)
from a female partner. E-mail support is available, and evening
phone appointments are available by arrangement. Also have
a weekly support group for survivors of rape (women only).
Broken Rainbow Forum 07812 644 914 is a 24-hour emergency
hotline for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgendered
people who have experienced violence from partners, family
The Everyman Project
1A Waterloo Road
London N19 5NJ
Helpline: 020 7263 8884 (Tues and Thurs 6.30pm-9pm)
Tel (admin): 020 7737 6747
A voluntary organisation based in London which offers a range
of support services for men who want to stop behaving violently
or abusively. These include a focused brief counselling programme
and telephone helpline which offers information, advice and
counselling to men who are concerned about their violence
or abuse and to people affected by a man's violence or abuse.
Campaign Against Domestic Violence
Aims to increase awareness of domestic violence, campaign
for legal change, and improve facilities and services for
women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence.
Written by a British psychotherapist, this site offers support
for parents and grandparents on issues that affect families,
including an article on domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Data Source
An information co-ordinating system on projects relating to
domestic violence within England, Wales, Scotland, Northern
Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Includes an extensive
Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence
Features a range of resources, online booklets, government
policy and useful links relating to domestic violence. Part
of the Home Office website.
Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust
An independent charity that campaigns for the prevention of
male violence against women and children. Also works with
a range of agencies to promote innovative policy and best
practice that target the root causes of male violence.
Confronting Domestic Violence by Craig Donnellan (ed) (Independence
Educational Publishers, 2002)
Gathering together information from a wide range of sources,
this booklet looks at the causes and effects of domestic violence,
why some people abuse others, and reasons why people stay
in abusive relationships. It has details of services available
to partners and their children.
Get this book
Getting Out: Life stories of women who left abusive men by
Ann Goetting and Caroline Jory (Vision Paperbacks, 2000)
Contains life histories of women suffering from domestic violence
in the UK. The authors describe not only the build up to violence
but also the resources the women drew upon to escape.
Get this book
Power and Control by Sandra Horley (Vermilion, 2002)
With a forward by Cherie Booth, this book aims to show abused
women that they are not alone, and to help them walk away
from the dangerous situations they are in.
Get this book
(updated March 2003, resources updated June 2004)