We must focus on removing the root cause of domestic abuse, writes Sam Billingham

It’s 2020 and thanks to a pandemic that has been here for five minutes, victims of an epidemic – that has been around for many years and will continue to be around for many more – are now to be a priority.

Talking Point columnist Sam Billingham
Talking Point columnist Sam Billingham

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I’m dismayed and disappointed that it has taken so long for the awareness and recognition of this abhorrent crime to come to light. It really does go to show how many men, women and children have been failed completely by the system.

But now they are a priority, what next? Because there is so much more to be done.

Recognising that domestic abuse happens and that victims are a priority is really just the tip of the iceberg and we need to work on the bigger picture to get the ending victims deserve.

The impact that this particular crime has on victims is absolutely life changing and takes time to put the pieces back together again.

There are so many reasons why victims should always be a priority, the main priority is it’s not their fault and the most important key message we must spread is domestic abuse happens because abusers choose to abuse; no one chooses to be a victim.

Victims must be heard, believed and listened to, that is absolutely vital in supporting them in the transition from victim to survivor.

Consistent

Funding is absolutely fundamental but only if spent correctly and distributed to those on the front line and those specialist services who support victims of domestic abuse at crisis point. This means consistent, stronger and robust support packages to be put in place, more safehouses and ongoing aftercare, not only on leaving the relationship but also as they move on from refuge. We must do all that we can to prevent victims from going back to the arms of their abuser.

Now that victims of domestic abuse have finally become a priority, it is absolute vital that there are tougher prison sentences. It takes so much courage to reach out to report the abuse that is happening behind closed doors and when that call is made, it is the victim saying, I really can’t take any more.

We can no longer victim blame but instead we must focus on removing the root cause of domestic abuse, which is the perpetrator. But without a stricter punishment, how will they ever learn to understand that their behaviour is simply unacceptable. Domestic abuse is not normal however, we are living in a society that accepts it as such.

Victims are hugely let down and simply have no faith whatsoever where the lack of Justice sits in our Criminal Justice System, after all it does say Criminal Justice and not victim Justice. A complete rehaul in the CJS would make an immense change to the lives of those affected by this horrific crime.

Now, only if that became a priority too.

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