So what do we mean by domestic abuse?
In Guernsey the definition of domestic abuse largely mirrors the UK definition. For anyone under 18 experiencing abuse within their own teen relationships, it would be regarded first and foremost as a child safeguarding issue.
We use the following definition of domestic abuse:
“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviours, violence or abuse between those who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
stalking and harassment
emotional and psychological”
Controlling behaviour is: “A range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.” An example would be not allowing a partner or family member to associate normally or freely with friends and other family.
Coercive behaviour is: “An act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish or frighten their victim.” An example would be a person regularly picking a fight with a partner that ends in violence.
These are important because often people still think of domestic abuse as a one-off incident of violence rather than an on-going pattern of controlling and coercive behaviour.
The definition includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender, social / economic group or ethnic group.
Below are examples of the different types of abuse.
Below are some examples of physical abuse:
- pulling hair
- throwing objects
- repeated banging of head
- withholding medication
- attempted murder
Below are examples of sexual abuse:
- Rape by partner’s friends
- Forced use of pornography or sado-masochistic practices
- Sexual assaults
- Inappropriate touching
- Sexual insults “your rubbish in bed”
- Sexual humiliation
- Sexual possessiveness
- Criticising sexual performance
- Enforced prostitution
Below are some examples of financial abuse:
- Preventing a person from getting or keeping a job
- Making them ask for money
- Giving them an allowance
- Taking their money
- Not letting them know about or have access to family income
Below are some examples of stalking and harassment:
- Unwanted texts and calls
- Following victim
- Turning up at the same places
- Attending workplace or home address
- Digital stalking via social media
- Use of tracking devices
- Using a 3rd party to do any or all of the above
There are many different ways in which people can be emotionally or psychologically abused. Below we have grouped some examples of this type of abuse.
- Constant Interrogation: “Who have you been with?”, “why have you done that?”, “why are you wearing that?”
- Threats: To have the children put into care, to commit suicide, smash everything, leave them penniless, kill pets, sexually abuse the children, have them sectioned, have them deported, find them if they leave, kill them
- Isolation: Not allowing them money, phone, to leave house, preventing them from: working, learning English, seeing friends / family, always accompanying them, not talking to them, withholding affection, encouraging phobias etc
- Degradation: Making them beg for money / food, humiliating them in front of friends, name calling “fat, ugly, stupid, slag, slut, whore”, put downs “You’re mentally ill”, “You’re a bad parent” “You’re useless”, spitting at them, making them think they are dirty, using racial abuse, sexual violence / pornography
- Exhaustion: Causing physical injury / sexual violence, waking them when they are asleep, demanding sex when they are tired, keeping her pregnant / young children, withholding or over-using medication, removing / destroying any aids they may require, making threats so that they live in constant fear
- Meaningless Tasks (Enforcing Trivial Demands): Expecting meticulous behavior, insisting things are kept in certain places, demanding things at certain times, expecting instant responses, every need serviced, force them to: re-cook meals, re-iron clothes, clean items that are already clean, polish soles of shoes
- Messing with their head (Distorted Perspectives): The following are examples of things a perpetrator might say: “No one else would have you”, “This is what partners do”, “It’s because I love you”, “This is what all relationships are like”, “It’s my duty to teach you about sex”, “It’s good for you”, “You like it really”, “I can’t live without you”, “I can’t bear the thought of you with somebody else”, “You know I don’t like …” Gaslighting is a phrase that is used referring to a perpetrator questioning the sanity or perception of reality of their victim with phrases such as “You’re crazy that never happened”, “It’s all in your head”
- Displays of Total Power: Physical beatings, rape / sexual violence, refusing them access to the children, turning the children against them, abusing them in front of others, boasting about the abuse with others, locking them in the house, destroying their possessions, killing pets
Occasional indulgencies are part of the emotional and psychological abuse. They will show the victim of abuse the person they fell in love with and give hope that the perpetrator has changed or that the victim has “finally got things right”. They can therefore be part of the reason someone stays in a relationship. This is until the next episode of domestic abuse.