Missed Calls For Help: The Scandal Of Domestic Violence

Yvette Cooper, Guardian.

Somewhere, somehow, the work to end violence against women lost momentum. Despite the improvements made over decades in tackling domestic and sexual violence, the scale of the problem remains shocking. Repeat violence is worryingly high, and there is a risk that we are taking progress for granted when much more could and should be done.

In the run up to Valentine’s Day on 14 February – the focus of the international campaign One Billion Rising to end violence against women – there is more every one of us could do to reduce the insidious, dangerous violence that still haunts too many women’s lives.

Complacency has been part of the problem. Campaigning by women in the 1970s and 80s meant things such as domestic violence or rape within marriage were finally recognised as crimes. In the 90s and noughties, the government backed institutional change, including more refuges, courst to deal with domestic violence, and police training.

As progress has been underway, it has become easier to assume that everything possible was being done and we could all move on. But the truth is much more disturbing. The scale of violence remains hidden or taken for granted, and the basics are still often missed.

First, some facts. Two women a week are killed by a husband, partner or ex. In some areas, one in five 999 calls to the police each week are for domestic violence, including those abused by parents or siblings, and male victims (although the majority are women). One woman told me how she fitted a lock to a bedroom door, and she sheltered with her children in a single room every night, afraid of what her husband might do while they slept.

Perhaps even more worrying, the same families are calling for help again and again, yet the emergency services can too often deal only with the immediate crisis, and no serious follow-up action is taken.

Many forces do not have a system for keeping track of repeat calls, so cannot easily say who the most dangerous repeat perpetrators are. The scale of government cuts to independent advisers, specialist police teams and training risks making that much worse.

Only 6.5% of recorded domestic incidents end in successful prosecution. Only the highest risk victims get systematic help

To read the rest of the article, see:http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/feb/05/scandal-domestic-violence-999-calls

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