Express & Star

To protect domestic abuse victims, a clear understanding of this complex crime is a must

Supporting victims of domestic abuse should go without saying but unfortunately this does not seem to be the case, writes Sam Billingham.

Sam supports victims of domestic abuse

Those urging victims to flee the violent and controlling relationship, need to pause and reflect whether this is safe to do and if it is not, what needs to be put in place to make it safe. Protecting vulnerable people in this situation must become a top priority.

We need to see strategic work which highlights victims earlier and prevents the worsening of these situations, to help save lives.

The issue remains deeply misunderstood, shrouded in shame in judgment of the victim. Domestic abuse happens because abusers choose to abuse; no one chooses to be a victim.

The private location of where the abuse happens makes it easier for perpetrators to hide their behaviour but harder for victims to get help.

The Government should devote more resources to protect victims, and offer strong support structures.

Victims of domestic abuse need to be protected. They have suffered immense trauma which will have a huge impact on their life. It’s usually the victim that bears the financial and emotional cost of surviving domestic abuse. We must change societies attitude toward domestic abuse to better protect, not punish, victims.

Where domestic abuse is concerned, we live in a society that would rather blame the victim, wondering how they could have behaved differently or made different choices to avoid being affected by this crime. We don’t focus on the root cause of domestic abuse, the perpetrator.

To protect victims a clear understanding of this complex crime is a must because without the understanding, the victims cannot be protected.

If they stay they aren’t believed or it isn’t that bad, if they leave they are constantly looking over their shoulder with those verbal threats of, I’ll kill you if I find you, rattling around in their head.

When they leave they are pressured into contact taking place where the perpetrator is allowed to maintain power and control over the victim by the perpetrators using their own child as a weapon.

We need to stop focusing on why don’t you just leave to actually protecting all victims of domestic abuse. Start with education and awareness for all, on an age appropriate platform in schools, colleges, universities and follow it through to the workplace.

One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point during their lifetime with many not knowing they are a victim until it’s too late.

Awareness helps keep us safe.

Raising awareness will protect victims of domestic abuse from the beginning, its early prevention will show victims that domestic abuse is not normal, should not be tolerated and will show them that they have choices.

We should be making it easier for victims and harder for perpetrators and until we get this method absolutely right then we aren’t in a strong enough position to vie victims of domestic abuse the protection they truly deserve

  • Sam Billingham is the founder of support group SODA - Survivors of Domestic Abuse .

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