Domestic Violence and Abuse

Posted on September 27th, 2012

According to an NSPCC study carried out last year, 12% of under 11s, 18% of 11-17 year olds and 24% of 18-24 year olds were exposed to domestic violence in their homes.

In September 2012, domestic violence became legally recognised for victims aged 16-17, which is a positive first step and from March 2013, the Home Office definition for domestic violence and abuse will be:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour,  violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over 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:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

The new definition has the addition of psychological intimidation. Through the recognition of non-physical abuse, it is expected that more prosecutions will be sought. Public awareness needs to be raised relating to psychological intimidation as a form of domestic abuse, as people may not recognise such behaviour within their relationship as abusive.

Children and young people need to be educated about domestic violence, as it is still widely seen as a private matter. This has been reflected in a YouGov survey, which found 38% of 18-24 year olds stated that being educated about domestic violence in school would have been very useful.

We are continually seeing reports in the news of domestic violence, which is raising the awareness and beginning to change people’s perceptions of abuse as something that we all need to take notice of.   In the news this week Stuart Murgatroyd, father of 12 children, was photographed by the Daily Mirror outside court arguing with the mother of his children. He reportedly poured a bottle of juice over her head before entering court to appeal his ASBO.  If this is the way he behaves in front of the press, what could happen behind closed doors?

It is important for children and young people to have positive role models to learn what appropriate behaviour is.  Mr Murgatroyd is showing his 12 children that it is acceptable to pour juice over their mother.

Role models take many different forms for children and young people today.  The singer Rihanna was physically assaulted by her partner, Chris Brown in 2009 and 3 years later is openly declaring her feelings of love towards him.  She has spoken about her feelings for him to Oprah Winfrey on TV and on Twitter she made clear  her support for him during his recent Court hearing following a failed drug test, referring to him as ‘her baby’.

Rihanna is a role model for so many young people in the UK; Time magazine named her as one of the most influential people in the world in 2012 and Forbes ranked her the fourth most powerful celebrity and it could be argued that her actions may have a negative impact on the lives and decisions of her young fans relating to domestic violence and abuse.

It can be difficult for people who are not involved in abusive situations to understand the reasons behind it and it is indeed a complex issue.  Why do families stay together through domestic violence?  It could be through love, finances, fear of speaking out, fear of the unknown…?

4 Children’s campaign Give Me Strength (www.givemestrength.org.uk/about-the-campaign/) is campaigning for greater understanding of domestic violence and is demanding more help for families before their situation becomes a crisis.

At Avocet we undertake Risk Assessments with families within which domestic violence is causing harm to children.    Avocet ISWs engage with perpetrators and victims of domestic violence to ascertain the best outcomes for children, to contribute to their protection from harm and to formulate plans for a life free of fear and intimidation.

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Sport for All

Posted on September 19th, 2012

According to the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS), there are 11 million people with a disability in the UK and less than 2 in every 10 people with a disability in England take part in sport.  EFDS are currently conducting a survey following the Olympic and Paralympic games to ascertain the effect the games have had on people’s attitudes towards sport.

Participating in sport can bring a wide range of health benefits not just physically but emotionally.  With the recent government reshuffle, it is difficult to know what the future may bring, particularly with the appointment of a new Health Minister.  According to the Guardian website, £4 billion of NHS money is being transferred to social care.  This funding could help with creating facilities suitable for people with disabilities to actively participate in sport and community events, which could promote health and well-being, in turn reducing the need for medical services or intervention.

However, the government cuts to disability benefits could jeopardise the independence of those who rely on this money. Therefore, in some cases, people may no longer be able to afford transport or support to access community sports.

This is a frustrating time for some, as a wider variety of sports are becoming available to people with disabilities.  For example, in Kent the launch of a wheelchair fencing club and a wheelchair rugby club are due in the next couple of weeks (www.kentsport.org).

Research carried out by Every Disabled Child Matters has found that children with disabilities want to participate in community events and have time to be independent from their families, however negative attitudes towards people with disabilities is still a barrier to sport, as well as transport and education.

Avocet has found a steady increase in its work with families with a child with a disability experiencing the struggle of over-coming hurdle after hurdle as they strive to access the most appropriate resources for their child in a climate of cuts and resource restrictions.

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