Domestic abuse includes, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, the so-called honour-based abuse of women and girls, perpetrated at the hands of the people who are supposed to be trusted the most, your family, your community.  

Domestic abuse accounts for a quarter of all recorded crime in UK there is a call made to police every 30 seconds. 
There is a low conviction rate in relation to domestic abuse cases - two women are murdered every week in England and Wales at the hands of partners or ex partners. 

Domestic abuse is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviours, in a vast majority of cases it is experienced by women and is perpetrated by a man. 

Domestic abuse can be regarded as a gendered crime a result of deeply rooted societal inequalities and social norms.  

The large majority of defendants in domestic abuse-related prosecutions in the year ending March 2020 were recorded as male (92%) and the majority of the victims recorded as female (77%, compared with compared with 16% who were male). The sex of the victim was not recorded in 7% of prosecutions. (Women’s aid) 

 

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM):  

This is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but there's no medical reason for this to be done. It's also known as female circumcision or cutting, and by other terms, such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others. 

Some of the signs associated may be: 

  • Having difficulty walking, standing or sitting. 
  • Spending longer in the bathroom or toilet. 
  • Appearing quiet, anxious or depressed. 
  • Acting differently after an absence from school or college. 
  • Reluctance to go to the doctors or have routine medical examinations. 

The Legal Framework: 

FGM offences are set out in the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 (“the 2003 Act”), as amended by the Serious Crime Act 2015. 
In the UK the maximum penalty for FGM is 14 years' imprisonment. 

Support Available: 

NSPCC FGM helpline – a 24-hour free helpline for anyone worried about FGM: 0800 028 3550. Forward – support, advice and information about accessing specialist health care and counselling for girls and women affected by FGM 

Alternatively, call the national FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550. 

 

“So called”Honour Based Abuse / Violence: 

Abuse is abuse in all its forms and we at Next Chapter will support all our clients in their own unique journey to a life free from fear and abuse. 

The so called “Honour-based violence/abuse" (HBV/A) is the term used to refer to a collection of practices used predominantly to control the behaviour of women and girls within families or other social groups in order to protect supposed cultural and religious beliefs, values and social norms in the name of 'honour'. 

Next Chapter work with and support victims of honour based abuse on a regular basis, given that we know the difficulties in coming forward for victims of this crime we know that the figures may be a lot higher than we are aware of. 

Honour Based Violence / Abuse Includes: 

  • Forced Marriage 
  • Physical Abuse 
  • Psychological abuse (Threats, humiliation, strict monitoring/surveillance) 
  • Abandonment (Leaving someone in their country of origin or sending them back there 
  • Forced Suicide 
  • Honour Killings (Murder) 

Stalking and Harassment:

Stalking and Harassment might both sit under one law, but they are actually two very different behaviours. After an abusive relationship, the perpetrator has lost a lot of control and can resort to Stalking.

A Stalker is...

Fixated

Obsessed

uses Unwanted

and Repeated contacts (FOUR)

They spend a lot of time thinking about how to get to their victim, or get a response from them, and often contact the victim’s friends, family, neighbours, or make false allegations to professionals about the victim; the neighbours or family or friends are being Harassed by the Stalker. Harassment is a behaviour revolving around a situation, rather than a fixation on the person. For example, with neighbour harassment, if the victim moves, their neighbour will likely redirect their Harassment at the new neighbour. 

Stalking can involve: 

  • Calls, texts, emails (unwanted) 
  • Following or loitering around your home or work place 
  • Unwanted gifts, or subtle messages – eg the brand of cigarette butt left outside the front door, rose heads chopped off 
  • Online – multiple/fake social media accounts, hacking, watching your activity online, finding out information about you 
  • Revenge Porn (common in stalking so speak with Revenge Porn Helpline on https://revengepornhelpline.org.uk/help-and-advice/ 
  • Indirect – changing Facebook status to reflect threats, sending threatening messages without mentioning victim’s name 
  • Vandalism to car, garden, doors, property 
  • Using others around you wittingly or unwittingly; to pass on info about you, or messages to you, making false allegations to agencies 
  • Trackers on cars, devices, somehow knowing where you are 
  • Using the family courts to maintain control, drag out for financial abuse 
  • Turning up at your house, place of work – if it is more than 3 times a week, this could lead to serious harm or homicide 
  • Breaking & entry – this can be an early predictor of homicide 

I would advise a victim of stalking to avoid responding to any attempts of contact, but also avoid blocking as unfortunately this can lead to more risky behaviours from the Stalker. I would advise them to download Hollie Guard app, and keep friends and family updated so that they can check on your safety, and offer support. Avoid direct contact and physical proximity with the Stalker, prioritise safety (by changing routines if the Stalker knows these) and don’t disregard anything suspicious as “coincidence.” Seek specialist advice and support from Next Chapter for safety planning as Stalkers are very persistent and unlikely to “just stop.”