We are half way through National Safeguarding Adults Week, in which we're taking each day promote awareness of a different safeguarding issue. Today, our focus is domestic abuse and how Manchester as a city is working to better support survivors.
Manchester shares the definition of domestic abuse which is outlined in the city’s 2016-2020 Domestic Abuse Strategy, ‘Delivering Differently’:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, 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 trans status. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:
Psychological, Physical, Sexual, Financial, Emotional.
Overall Manchester has defined seven types of Domestic Abuse and Violence:
- Coercive Control (Intimate Terrorist)
- Violent Resistance (Resisting The Intimate Terrorist)
- Situational Couple Violence
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Forced Marriage
- Elder/Carer Abuse
- Young People aged under 18 who are violent towards their parents
How prevalent is domestic abuse and violence?
Domestic abuse and violence is a national issue and is especially prevalent across Manchester, particularly the South of the city. Between 2016 and 2019, a total of 7841 incidents of domestic violence or abuse were reported to have taken places across the 14 boroughs of South Manchester. Despite this figure, domestic violence and abuse remains a relatively ‘hidden crime’ and incidents frequently go unreported; this could mean that the real number of incidents may be much higher than those reported.
What's being done to help?
Domestic abuse is everyone’s responsibility, as is safeguarding, and we speaking out about it is the single most effective way to combat the issue.
The impact of domestic abuse is wide reaching and linked to a host of health problems, including negative psychological, emotional and behavioural effects on children. People who experience abuse have an increased use of primary and secondary care services and, as a city, Manchester spends a total of £24.5 million a year on tacking domestic abuse and violence. 95% of this is spent on crisis point intervention.
Tackling domestic violence and abuse has been a key priority for Manchester for many years; however, as reported incidents have continued to rise, a different approach was needed. In order to create a new approach, which focuses on delivering the right support for the person at the right time in a more responsive and collaborative way, the Manchester Domestic Abuse Strategy 2016 - 2020 was created. The strategy outlines and endorses a strength-based approach, in which professionals work alongside survivors of domestic abuse to identify the best way of supporting them.
Social Care is also adapting its approach to supporting survivors of domestic violence and abuse to a more strength-based and partnership approach. Children’s Social Care in particular, as the highest rate of referral into their service and child protection cases involve domestic abuse and violence as the presenting issue. They have implemented practice change for all the Social Workers using the new Safe and Together Model which is based on following principles:
- Keeping the child safe and together with the non offending parent
- Partnering with the non offending parent as a default position, rather than holding them accountable for the perpetrators behaviour
- Intervening with perpetrator to reduce risk of harm to child, rather than ignoring their behaviour and focusing solely on non-offending parent
What can I do?
Whilst Manchester as a city had re-evaluated its approach to recognising and responding to domestic abuse and violence, we as individuals can also assist in tackling the issue through simple steps and changes.
One of the best things we as individuals can do is to challenging our unconscious biases around domestic abuse and violence. By doing this, we can improve our ability to identify early signs of domestic violence and abuse and recognise when we need to take action.
Common Myth Busting – Challenging Our Unconscious Bias
- Domestic abuse only affects women and is solely perpetrated by men – Domestic Abuse can be experienced by anyone, irrespective of gender. Women can also be the perpetrators of Domestic Abuse and men the survivors.
- It only affects poor families living on a council estate - Anyone can be abused, no matter where they live or how much money they have. Victims of Domestic Abuse come from all walks of life. You only have to think of the celebrities we hear about in the papers to realise that money cannot protect you from Domestic Abuse.
- Domestic abuse is a private matter and you shouldn’t get involved - For too long domestic abuse has been allowed to happen behind closed doors. People think what goes on in the home is private, and not their problem. Domestic Abuse is a crime. It is against the law and we all have a responsibility to speak out about it.
- They haven’t left the abusive relationship so they must like it – There are many practical and psychological barriers to ending a relationship with a violent partner which make leaving difficult, such as Safety, lack of self-confidence, Financial dependency, Shame, guilt, religious beliefs.
By better educating ourselves on the types of domestic abuse which can occur, and moving away from common myths surrounding abuse, we can empower ourselves to fight against domestic abuse and violence.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse or violence, or know someone who is, please don't be afraid to speak up. You can report incidents directly to Greater Manchester Police; remember, if an incident is occurring or there is a threat to life, call 999.
You can also find support through a number of domestic abuse helplines.
For more information on National Safeguarding Adults Week, click here.