For the past 12 days, the Exeter Domestic Sexual Violence and Abuse Forum (DSVA) has been hosting a collection of local events to raise awareness and stimulate action to end Domestic Sexual Violence & Abuse.
The campaign started on 25 November 2016 starting on UN’s International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women and continues until the International Human Rights Day until 10th December 2016. Find out more at 16 days of action in Exeter
Members of the Domestic Violence and Children Team took a morning out of their busy day to find out more about the nature of coercive control in relationships. [Image (right) from left to right: Hannah Myers, Imran Khodabocus, Sue Ellingham and Debbie Chetwood]
The event took place on Day 4 and was presented by Dinah Mears from RELATE. Dinah provided insight into the way in which coercive relationships develop in terms of control. The Government’s guidance note describing 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 the victim’. Dinah provided many examples of such control. For example she gave the example of a couple in a car with the perpetrator putting his foot down on the throttle and threatening to kill them saying ‘I’m having to hurt you…if you behaved better I wouldn’t have to hurt you.’ Dinah explained about how a perpetrator emotionally manipulates victims for example threatening ‘ if you leave me, I will kill myself’. Dinah also gave a really useful insight into the impact on the victim. For example the victim feeling that they have lost the choice of whether to stay with the perpetrator; that the victim feels responsible for triggering the attack by the perpetrator; that the victim feels unable to tell anyone and that they deserved it.
Dinah emphasised the importance of professionals and members of the public to ask the question of suspected victims ‘Do you feel safe?’ and to refer them on to support services.
The Exeter DSVA Forum and DSVA Alliance comprises of professionals in health, support services, police, probation, legal system and Lawyers who are working towards the goal to end domestic violence and to offer help and support to suspected victims and perpetrators of domestic sexual, violence and abuse to appropriate support and programmes and protective orders through the police, Solicitors and the Family Court.
Legal Aid is available to victims of domestic abuse subject to financial status, which may have to be repaid in certain circumstances. Whatever happens, the initial appointment is free. If you are the victim of domestic sexual violence and abuse, please call one of our specialist lawyers who can help on 01392 421777
Useful websites and phone numbers:
Information on how to cover your tracks online: Women’s aid
Devon Domestic Abuse Support Services (DDASS) 03451551074
Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services 01392 204174
SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone) 03030300112
Devon and Cornwall Police 101
Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC – Devon and Torbay) 01392 436967
Sexual Assualt Referral Centre (SARC – Plymouth) 03458 121212
North Devon Against Domestic Abuse (NDADA) 01271 321946
Emergency housing/accommodation 01392 264726/ 0845 3511060
Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
National LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 999 5428
The Family Law Company 01392 421777