My name is Naomi and I am a domestic abuse Practitioner for Next Chapter.  I feel very privileged to work for this organisation, with an amazing team of strong women who dedicate their careers to supporting victims of domestic abuse.

I think my team would agree that this is a fast-paced environment to work in and no day is ever the same.  We are fortunate that we are able to support many women and men and are constantly learning about behaviours, values and culture

It is important to mention at this point that Next Chapter supports both women, men and children however, we know that domestic abuse is experienced by women at a higher rate than men.

Some of my clients have come to the UK to seek a better quality of life for themselves.  However, the barriers they face can be incredible.  For many, home is where they face an abusive relationship at the hands of someone close to them. They live in fear from their partners threats of deportation and therefore, losing their children.  They may also experience physical, financial and sexual abuse. 

These victims are not always aware that this is domestic abuse and it is illegal in the UK.  Different countries and cultures may have their own values and attitudes toward a woman, family, marriage, sex and divorce.  My role is to provide emotional support to these clients and to make them aware of the legal options available to them to end the abuse.

Societal and cultural factors contribute to perpetuating violent relationships. Below is a diagram that depicts some of the ways in which this is done.

An abusive relationship, shown at the centre of the wheel, exists within the larger environment of society and culture.

The actions of individuals are influenced by the norms, values, language, and other cultural factors that are like the dust in the air that surrounds everyone. These cultural factors are ingrained in us from the day we are born, and can play a role in either ending or perpetuating domestic abuse.

My clients have described the cultural barriers that have prevented them from seeking help such as fear of dishonouring the family, shame and fear of being rejected by their community.  Additionally, they have told us that they are expected to suffer in silence and are usually advised to be patient and pray for their situation to change!  We know that victims may even be blamed for the abuse they are being subjected to and this fear of blame can also prevent women from coming forward and getting the help they need.

As a result of this, we know that domestic abuse is under reported within these communities and, heartbreakingly, for some victims, it is too late to ask for help.  We have seen a number of cases featured in the media of women being murdered by their husbands or other family members. 

I wouldn’t want you to think that I am saying that domestic abuse is limited to black and minority cultures – in my experience, domestic abuse in the widest sense, is found in every community and affects all people regardless of age, race, religion, nationality, gender or socioeconomic status.  However, we do know through research and capturing women’s experiences, that black or minoritised women are more likely to have been subjected to many overlapping forms of violence and abuse – rape in marriage, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, trafficking - which they often live with for as long as 15 years before seeking help.  We have seen and heard that when they do try and speak out about their violations, they are not heard or forced into silence through a range of strategies at personal, family, community and societal levels, whether this is shame, stigma, denial, or the pressure to be strong and to not reinforce racialised views of their communities.

I have seen the cultural and religious factors that I have just spoken about, used directly by the perpetrator against the victim; using the fear of family and social disapproval, community alienation, and the stigma of being divorced, as weapons to perpetuate domestic abuse.  The combination of these elements in an already challenging situation increases a woman’s hesitance to report the abuse and to leave the relationship that ultimately binds her to the abusive household.

As a domestic abuse practitioner, I am here to support my clients, to enable them to consider all the options available to them and, together, we come up with a plan of support that keeps them safe and protected.  This may include sourcing a refuge space and or obtaining protection orders.  Whatever their decision, we walk beside them every step of the journey to enable them to live a life free of abuse.

 

Here are some useful websites to explore:

Muslim Women’s Network 

www.mwnhelpline.co.uk

Call: 08009995786

Text: 07415206936

Although their reach is primarily Muslim women, the helpline will accept calls from and support women of any faith or no faith. For example, the culturally sensitive nature of the helpline could easily support Asian women of other faiths. Men who are concerned about women and girls should also call the helpline.

 

Iranian Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO)

IKWRO provides support services for Middle Eastern, North African and Afghan women and girls who are living in the UK suffering from domestic abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and honour-based abuse.

Telephone: 020 7920 6460 Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5:30pm

Out of hours:

Kurdish / Arabic / English: 07846 275246

Farsi / Dari / English: 07846 310157

Latin American Women’s Rights Service

The Latin American Women’s Rights Service provides support services for Latin American women suffering from domestic abuse.

Telephone:

0771 928 1714 Monday to Thursday 10am to 1pm

0759 597 0580 Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm

Email: if calling is not safe, email [email protected] with your name, phone number and the best time for them to call you. 

https://www.imkaan.org.uk/

https://karmanirvana.org.uk/

https://southallblacksisters.org.uk/