Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence
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The Worcestershire Domestic and Sexual Abuse website offers help and guidance for Women, Children and Men who are or have experienced domestic or sexual abuse. It also provides information for people who know someone who may be being abused.
SafeLives publishes new report into psychological abuse
A new report has been published which focuses on psychological abuse. The report highlights key findings identified following a research project undertaken by UK domestic abuse charity SafeLives as part of their ‘Issues Affecting Women’ programme.
The ‘Psychological Violence’ report highlights the regularity of psychological abuse, the daily experiences of those living with it, and the tactics perpetrators use to threaten and control.
The key finding includes:
Psychological abuse is commonplace and can occur in the absence of physical abuse
91% of survivors surveyed as part of the research had experienced a form of psychological abuse at some point in their relationships, with nearly half experiencing it regularly. Many survivors will experience some form of psychological abuse in isolation from physical abuse, 42% had never been physically assaulted causing bruising or cuts and 76% had never been physically assaulted causing broken bones or serious injuries.
Psychological abuse follows a pattern of abuse and manipulation, often involving a phase of ‘grooming’
At the beginning of their relationships, 96% of survivors said their partner was charming and affectionate, 93% said they expressed love for them very quickly and 92% wanted to spend a lot of time together. Abusive behaviour is interspersed with warmth and kindness, slowly desensitising the victim to the behaviour.
Perpetrators use a wide range of hidden tactics to maintain control and brainwash their victim, presenting insults as a joke, gaslighting, and presenting different versions of events. Nearly half (48%) of survivors reported regularly being told they were mentally unstable, and over half regularly experienced control in who they could speak to, meet socially or spend time with. Perpetrators also take advantage of victims’ vulnerabilities; those with mental health illnesses were threatened with being sectioned, whereas those with precarious immigration status reported citizenship being used to keep them dependent upon their abuser.
Manipulation is maintained following abusive incidents too, with many survivors experiencing tactics to keep them in the relationship. 80% said their partner promised to change and nearly half experienced severe psychological manipulation, with a partner threatening to take their own life if they left the relationship.
Children are hidden victims of psychological abuse, with contact often used as a means to continue control
Children living with psychological abuse are often used as ‘tools of abuse’. 85% of survivors said the perpetrator used the children to threaten and control them and 72% of survivors said the perpetrator attempted to turn their children against them.
There are no ‘typical’ victims or perpetrators of psychological abuse
The report dispels common myths around ‘typical’ victims or perpetrators of abuse. Previous research finds that of visible cases, women who earn 65% or more of their household income are more likely to be psychologically abused than those who earn less than 65%. In line with this, the Psychological Violence report finds that almost a third of perpetrators were in professional, senior or middle management at the time of the abuse, with roles including police officer, psychologist and director of children’s services.
We must do more to see the whole picture for every adult, child and whole family experiencing any form of domestic abuse.
The full report can be accessed at the Safe Lives Research website (opens in a new window)
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