FEATURE11 November 2019

False idyll: Researching domestic abuse

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Features Impact UK

Domestic abuse lasts longer in rural areas, with stigma and shame preventing victims from seeking help and perceptions of rural communities masking the scale of the problem, writes The Buzzz’s Alan Bowman.

Rural abuse Photograph - Front Cover

Domestic abuse may not hit the headlines like knife or gang-related violence, but – as a crime – it is growing at an alarming rate. According to the Femicide Census produced by Women’s Aid in the UK, a woman was killed by her male partner or former partner every four days, on average, over the past 10 years.

This figure represents only the tragic tip of the iceberg, however. Underneath is a vast and complex range of abuse that involves coercion, controlling behaviour, stalking, ongoing mental abuse, financial control, and sexual control, in what has been summarised as ‘intimate terrorism’. It involves male and female victims and, as we discovered in our research, a significant proportion of victims who have lived like this for many years. Estimates show that one in four people in the UK today has experienced or witnessed domestic abuse as a child or adult (Refuge’s 2017 annual report).

While the incidence rate for domestic abuse crimes classified by ...