Is the fight against domestic violence in crisis?

Across the globe, the fight against domestic abuse is stalling as funding fails to match rising demand. Vulnerable people are being left without access to vital services. This must change.

When I was asked to share this moving video as part of fundraising efforts for nonprofit The Spring of Tampa Bay – which has  provided sanctuary and services to more than 60,000 abused adults and their children – I reflected on the reality faced by many domestic abuse services.

Domestic violence is a global issue

“Violence against women is a global public health problem that affects approximately one third of women globally” (WHO, 2013)

Photo by xenia

Photo by xenia

Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violence against women, and pressure on specialist services worldwide continues to grow amidst rising demand.

In a single year, over one million women in the UK experience domestic violence. In just one day, more than 3,300 Canadian women seek refuge in a domestic violence centre. Six million American children witness domestic violence in a year.

In India, studies suggest that 70 per cent of women have suffered domestic violence. According to the World Health Organisation, Japanese women are least likely to encounter domestic violence – but 15 per cent report being physically or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Barely on the public radar

Domestic violence is too commonplace to grab the headlines. Often, even the most extreme cases fail to make much of a dent on the media radar. And,  in the current tough economic climate, it is typically the headline-grabbing causes that receive the lion’s share of public backing.

It’s hard for people who haven’t been on the receiving end of abuse, to understand how critical is the need for well-funded resources. Add to this ill-informed misconceptions that people who are abused are somehow complicit – perhaps because we don’t always run for the hills the first time abuse rears its ugly head.

In addition, swingeing public sector cuts in many countries are also impacting on funding streams upon which domestic abuse services rely.

Vulnerable people left out in the cold

Photo by Roland Tanglao

Photo by Roland Tanglao

In the UK today, domestic violence services face a funding crisis – with leading charity Women’s Aid calling for action as providers struggle to respond to growing need. People experiencing abuse – women and men – are being turned away. Some communities have no access to local services at all. Crucial awareness and education messages are not being heard.

This matters to me. Domestic violence services can be the difference between a person being buried in the avalanche of abuse, or digging out as a survivor. My local centre connected me to a network of fellow survivors, whom I learn from and grow with. Compassionate, non-judgmental staff provided practical support and advice. I received training designed to empower me to recognise abuse. Today, my future looks brighter – and abuse-free.

If you can, please show your solidarity with survivors of domestic abuse by donating to a domestic abuse charity, by volunteering at your local centre, or adding your voice to campaigns for increased funding.

Photo by xJasonRogersx

Photo by xJasonRogersx

* I have not and will not be compensated in any way for this article *

What do you think? Is enough being done to tackle domestic abuse where you are?

© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14

12 responses to “Is the fight against domestic violence in crisis?

  1. Pingback: Is the fight against domestic violence in crisis? | Teela Hart·

  2. What a powerful article, thank you for sharing those statistics, I can never find them when I look for them. The good news is that the days of silence for many people in this topic is over and this empowers others, with access to public media I myself have benefited in healing and validation from hearing the stories of others and others take notice who are outside the cycle. Great job.


  3. This is a great article. The importance of awareness education is so important! This fight against domestic violence is so critical and the stigma is suffocating. P.S. Great video!!


  4. The problem is the ever widening definition of “abuse”. Physical intimate partner violence is a tragedy. However the definition of abuse now includes virtually everything.

    However pick up any book on abusive relationships and the definition of “abuse” is absurd. Withholding sex, demanding too much sex. Withholding affection, providing too much affection. Withholding money, giving too much money expecting something in return. Yelling, giving the silent treatment.

    My ex-girlfriend kept babbling on about how I was abusive. I never once threatened her or was physically violent with her in any way. I provided a home, helped with child care, in fact I did the lions share of the domestic duties including child rearing and cleaning because she was a slob. I bought her thousands and thousands of dollars worth of things and she was terrible with money so when she overspent I would end up stuck covering the difference. When I did raise my voice it was because I’d come home to a filthy mess, I’m no OCD neat freak I’m talking I have to run the dishwasher back to back 3 times just to get the dishes done. 20 loads of laundry unfolded piling up by the washer. I’m not exaggerating.

    I would send her to counselling or the local church to try to help her put things into perspective. Guess what they all told her? She was in an abusive relationship and she needed to escape. When she came back with all manner of these books and pamphlets handed to her. I would ask her and wonder what on earth are you telling these people? I was hoping she would come back with perspective that a stay at home mom might actually fill the role and at least pick up after herself – and that her depression and mood might improve if she took on part time work or volunteered and got herself out of the house for a few hours a day instead of loafing around sleeping on the couch.

    I may be coming across quite strong; I know not all cases are like my ex girlfriend. When I look at the table and see 12 empty cigarette packs and 6 empty 2 litre bottles and overflowing ash trays, three dishwasher loads of dishes and fruit flies all over the place eventually I’m gonna blow my top – I’m out working and I dont want to come home and put in 6 hours of housework just to relax.

    But the “abuse industry” validated her every concern and never bothered to ask the most important question, ie. “What do you think that your boyfriend is angry about?” and then dug deeper into the situation.

    Because of this, my ex became so terrified of me that she brought the police to come and get her stuff which was lunacy. Even the officer agreed that this civil standby call was a waste of his time.

    If you want funding for domestic abuse to be raised your community needs to narrow the definition to something more realistic. A man who yells at his wife in a domestic disagreement is not an abuser. A man who threatens to punch his wife or actually does in an domestic agreement is. The former is a serious disagreement while the latter is a crime. Women yell at men inside relationships all the time, nobody encourages men to run away to a shelter and call the cops when the wife screams at him for not putting the toilet seat down for the 50th time.

    I may sound jaded but, well, I am. I am a kind person who provided thousands of dollars worth of support for a girl and a daughter that was not even mine, raised the daughter like my own when my girlfriend was pre and post surgery like a single father almost, and now my reputation in my community is half trashed because I was labeled as an abusive person to anyone she spoke to who would listen. I never threatened to hurt her, never tried to isolate her, never tried to force her to do anything. Quite the opposite actually, I encouraged her to get counselling, bought her into classes to get her out of the house and interacting socially, tried to encourage her to get part time work or volunteer because she was isolating herself. Yet now I am labeled as an abusive person in a community I have lived in for 13 years.

    Sorry to come at this comment section from the other side of things, but hopefully you will understand that I do think that men who are violent against women (or visa versa) are criminals who should be punished but the widening labelling of what constitutes abuse is the reason your cause is losing ground. Everyone I am sure knows of a man persecuted, shunned, or shamed for being abusive due to false allegations, whether in a custody dispute or not because this is commonplace.

    Just take my example. I was worried about my ex girlfriend because she is a cellphone junkie and had not responded to me for 6 days which was very unlike her and her new boyfriend had several times threatened to take away her phone. I asked her to call me so I could verify if she was OK and if she didn’t I would come over to her new house to check on her. Instead of simply calling me for a 2 minute phone call they called the police. I was there and gone in 2 minutes and only knocked on the door and half the detachment was on alert for trouble. I called the cops myself after I got home because the boyfriend said she was sleeping which was absurd, I was just concerned. A week later I’m sitting having a beer in my backyard and a police officer arrives on civil standby to ensure there is no trouble while she gathers her things. Well I had been waiting for her to take her things for 4 months and I already have another girlfriend myself. The cop and I had a great conversation and it was fine. Again if she had simply phoned ahead and asked if there would be any trouble this tremendous waste of police resources for the second time would be averted. Four minutes of phonecall would have saved 8 hours of police resources.

    But of course I’m some abusive nutjob wingnut who is unstable. I have no criminal record I have never been in a fight or involved in domestic violence. The worst thing I’ve ever done is slam a door. Thanks abuse industry for giving her the validation.


  5. Pingback: Is the fight against domestic violence in crisis? | Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde·

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