What is abuse?
Abusive behaviour can be:
- violent (hitting, kicking, slapping)
- emotional (humiliating and putting you down)
- sexual (forcing you to do sexual acts you don’t want to)
Abusive relationships can start with verbal or emotional abuse and could happen to anyone (including those in same-sex relationships). It can often escalate into physical abuse, by which time your self-esteem is likely to be damaged.
Some warning signs of potential violence and abusive behaviour are:
- extreme jealousy
- anger when you want to spend time with your friends
- isolating you from friends and family
- trying to control your life (how you dress, who you hang out with and what you say)
- humiliating you, putting you down
- threatening to harm you or to self-harm if you leave them
- demanding to know where you are all the time
- monitoring your calls and emails, threatening you if you don’t respond instantly
- excessive alcohol drinking and drug use
- explosive anger
- using force during an argument
- blaming others for his/her problems or feelings
- being verbally abusive
- threatening behaviour towards others
- pressuring you to send sexual texts and images of yourself
- someone sharing any sexual text and images of you with their mates
How do I know whether I am in an abusive relationship?
The Women’s Aid federation for England has put together an online questionnaire. It may be useful to you whether you are a man or a woman, and you want to identify whether what you are experiencing is abuse.
What sort of help is available to victims of domestic abuse?
You don’t need to involve the Police to get help. Please don’t suffer in silence - confide in someone you trust and contact one of the support organisations listed in your area. You will be able to talk to someone who understands what you are going through and the get the practical and emotional support you need.
There are a number of Refuges in Essex which offer emergency and temporary accommodation for women and their children who are experiencing domestic abuse.
There are also many things that can be done to support you in your own home, such as making it more physically secure or to help you move to another address if that is what you need to do.
Safer Places also offers a range of specialist support for people from minority ethnic communities, the LGBT community, male victims, and to all age groups and anyone with specific additional challenges such as with substance misuse, mental health problems or a physical disability.
What happens if I go into a Refuge?
A Refuge offers a safe, secure and supportive environment for women fleeing domestic violence and their children.
There are many different sorts of accommodation ranging from flats to shared houses but you always have your own private space and your own key. There are also communal areas and facilities for children. You can get advice about housing, benefits, legal questions, health, education and other issues. You will have your own key worker to work with you throughout your stay, who will help you rebuild your life. When you are ready to move on, there will be help too.
Although the refuge is temporary accommodation you will be able to settle whilst you recover and plans are made to ensure you can return to a safe home in the community.
Refuge for Men - Safer Places now provides refuge accommodation for men or they can also support you in the community to find a safe place to live.
What is Clare's Law?
Clare's Law - also known as the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) - allows the public to request information about someone they suspect may be at risk of being violent towards a partner. The law was introduced in March 2014 after the coroner at the inquest of murdered Clare Woods, suggested that women need to know of someone's history.
The scheme allows someone within a relationship - either male or female, to make a request to the police for information about a partner's history. The scheme is also open to anyone who has a concern about a relationship (for instance the relative or friend) and is worried that someone may be at risk of harm from their partner. If disclosure is deemed necessary, the information is given to the person at risk, not to the applicant.
A panel of police, probation services and other agencies check every request to decide if disclosure of information is necessary, before trained police officers and advisers then provide support to victims. Even where the panel finds that no violence is found in someone’s background, police will still help with advice and signposting if someone is fearful of their partner’s behaviour.
To contact Essex Police or fore more information, visit the Essex Police website or call 101.
What if I want to stay in my own home?
The organisations listed in your area can help you consider your options and make the right choices for your future at your own pace, whilst you stay in your own home. They can provide practical and emotional support at home or somewhere safe in your community, with an opportunity to meet others who are experiencing similar situations.
Sanctuary schemes help victims of domestic violence stay in their home and feel safe through installing physical security measures. Every ‘sanctuary’ is tailored to individual needs and circumstances, and range from fitting new locks and external lighting to creating secure ‘sanctuary rooms’.
What is a Forced Marriage?
You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.
Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (eg threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (eg if you’re made to feel like you’re bringing shame on your family).
For help, or if you are concerned about a Forced Marriage, you can contact the national Forced Marriage Unit (FMU)