New law to target domestic violence but will it help?

January 15, 2014 3:36 pm

Every year, it is reported that there is an increase in domestic violence over the Christmas and New Year period and with so many victims afraid to speak out, will the new bill help them to finally have a voice?

MPs are said to be backing a new bill which is similar to the U.S legislation which takes into account the physical and psychological aspects of domestic abuse.

At the moment within U.K. criminal law, the perpetrator is only convicted if he, or she has either raped or assaulted the victim so this new law hopefully help victims.

The law that has been based on U.S. legislation has seen a dramatic increase in convictions and reporting of domestic violence. It is being welcomed by domestic violence support groups across the UK as it is said that many victims especially over the Christmas period do not speak out during this time because they do not want upset anyone or don’t have anywhere to go.

Dickie Chester-James, chief executive at Staffordshire’s Women’s Aid, says that there is a noticeable pattern throughout December and the first weeks of the new year: “During December there is a reduction in referrals because women don’t want to upset their families or ruin their children’s Christmas.”

“But in January we find a rise in referrals from those who have stuck it out and come to the refuge or for community outreach.”

But, it is not just women who are at risk of being or becoming victims of domestic violence over the festive period, men are too. For every three sixth of victims who are being abused, one of them is a man and every year there are over 800,000 male victims who are said to be at risk of domestic abuse.

Mark Brookes, the chairman of the Mankind Initiative charity, who deals with helping men in abusive relationships echoes similar reasons as to why there seems to be an increase in domestic abuse in within relationships during this time:

“If a family is under stress financially for example, Christmas can be an additional layer of stress and can lead to violence escalating.”

“What we find is that they get help when it comes to the new year and we find this pattern throughout the year, for example when it comes to the summer holidays, many won’t call for help until afterwards.”

Having a family seems to have an effect on how much someone will take especially since ’tis the season to be jolly but the impact on the children who are in the middle of the violence can be astounding.

domestic violenceNSPCC research indicates that for a child who is living in a household where domestic violence is taking place there is a 50% chance that child abuse will also be taking place.

Dickie says: “I think people really don’t understand the effect that domestic violence has on children. If they’ve had to go into a refuge because the violence has gotten so bad, it can impact on their education, health and wellbeing.”

“They have so little power about what’s going on and quite often get caught in the middle of it.”

As a person that has been a witness and a friend to someone who has been in an abusive relationship, abuse can take shape in many different forms, not just physical. It can be emotional, financial and/ or even sexual. Looking from the outside, in. It seems suffocating and also terrifying and with so many victims being killed at the hands of their perpetrator, I definitely welcome such a law.

Why should victims have to wait until the violence escalates to an assault or if their partner physically abuses them? It is about time that it is recognised that there is variations of abuse when it comes to domestic violence and that victims can feel reassured that the law will be behind them. Maybe people will come and speak out more as the current law as it stands is only exacerbating the problem.

This year it’s time for a change.

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