Domestic Abuse: Raising Awareness to Protect Survivors

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The Scale of Domestic Abuse in the UK

Domestic abuse encompasses any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between partners, ex-partners or family members. This can include physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.

Around 2 million adults aged 16 to 74 experience domestic abuse in England and Wales alone each year. Nearly three quarters of these victims are women. These alarming figures only reflect reported incidents, meaning the true number of those suffering is likely much higher.

Domestic homicides have also been on the rise. Last year, over 100 people in the UK were killed by a current or former partner. Two thirds of these victims were female.

It’s clear domestic abuse remains a systemic issue impacting the lives of millions. More awareness and support is critical to reduce the violence plaguing so many relationships.

Barriers Preventing Survivors From Leaving

Leaving an abusive relationship is an extremely difficult and dangerous process. Surveys show it takes victims of domestic abuse an average of 7 attempts before they are able to leave for good.

There are many complex reasons why survivors stay with abusive partners. One of the most common is fear – fear of retaliation from the abuser, fear of the unknown future, fear of managing life alone, especially with children.

Financial dependence is also a major barrier. Abusers often control all the couple’s finances, leaving the victim with no savings or income options. Survivors may avoid leaving simply because they do not have the financial means to do so.

Raising our collective voices online and within our communities can enact real change. Survivors deserve to live free from abuse and fear. Share on X

Survivors also often still love their abusive partner and cling to the hope they will change their behavior. Abusers can manipulate this hope, apologizing after incidents of abuse and vowing to improve, starting the cycle of violence over again.

Social isolation is another tactic used by abusers. Cutting off a victim’s support system makes them more dependent on the relationship.

All these factors and more make it incredibly challenging for survivors to leave, even when they are suffering severe abuse. Greater awareness of these barriers is critical.

The Risks Survivors Face in Family Courts

One of the most dangerous times for domestic abuse victims is when trying to separate from their partner. Tragically, leaving does not always equate to safety, especially when child custody is involved.

Mothers who experience domestic abuse are at high risk of continuing abuse during child contact arrangements. In fact, physical abuse has been shown to either begin or escalate after separation in a startling 29% to 46% of cases.

Abusers often use child custody battles as a way to continue exerting control. Threats to gain custody or harm the children are common tactics. Once court proceedings start, the abuser may attempt to manipulate the situation through false accusations against the survivor.

Judges and other court staff often lack sufficient training to detect domestic abuse. As a result, custody decisions frequently do not take the abuse into account or recognize how unsafe unsupervised contact would be for the child and survivor.

There are also inadequate protections once custody arrangements are formalized. Visitation centers designed to facilitate safe child exchange are vastly insufficient, with only 17 centers serving the entire UK.

More needs to be done to keep survivors safe within the family court system. Until proper training and protections are in place, survivors risk continued harassment, violence and manipulation during this vulnerable time.

Raising Awareness on Social Media

With domestic abuse still impacting so many, raising awareness remains critical. Social media provides an opportunity for large-scale outreach and education.

Platforms like Facebook, X (Twitter) and Instagram allow social issues to gain attention through trending hashtags, viral posts and influential accounts. Through strategic coordination, domestic abuse awareness campaigns on social media can reach wide audiences.

Here are some ways you can help raise awareness online:

  • Share statistics and facts about domestic abuse to spread information
  • Follow and share posts from reputable domestic violence organizations
  • Use trending hashtags like #FamilyCourt, #DomesticAbuse and #DomesticViolence when posting
  • Post infographics and illustrations that demonstrate abusive behaviors
  • Share stories of survivors (with their permission) to put a human face to the issue
  • Create short videos about domestic violence for TikTok or Instagram reels
  • Host Instagram live talks with domestic abuse experts or survivors

These are just a few ideas. Coordinated efforts across social channels can significantly increase understanding of domestic abuse while directing those in need to critical resources.

You CAN Help

Domestic abuse remains an endemic issue in the UK impacting millions of lives. While laws and support services have improved, there is more work to be done, especially in improving family court protections for survivors and their children.

You can help. Follow reputable domestic violence organizations on social media and share their posts. Use trending hashtags when posting facts, stories and resources. Most importantly, believe and support victims if they confide in you. Listen with compassion and point them to available resources.

Raising our collective voices online and within our communities can enact real change. Survivors deserve to live free from abuse and fear. Through education and awareness, we can strive towards a society that supports survivors and prevents future violence. The change starts with each of us.


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