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)
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
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.
* 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