An article published in the Courrier newspaper in Scotland highlights the importance of understanding domestic violence more fully. The author Jon Brady interviewed Professor Liz Gilchrist about her work on domestic violence over a number of years , she highlights there is no single cause behind why a young male perpetrator may abuse his partner. She also points out the importance of early years experiences in how some men respond to women in their adulthood, particularly that an individual’s ability to navigate situations can be very difficult if they are not raised in a nurturing environment. Children who are not nurtured to feel secure see the world as a negative place and are not able to manage as well their temperament, set goals and discover interests of their own. This can result in adults over monitoring and trying to control their partner’s behaviour (particularly when they feel vulnerable or when they believe their partner is leaving them).
Two interventions are described: the first being The Intervention Initiative, originally developed by the University of the West of England in 2014, which focuses on university students; to educated them how and when to intervene in situations that could indicate sexual harassment, coercion or an abusive relationship. The second intervention is the ADVANCE intervention set within the ADVANCE study. The intervention focuses on a male substance using population who are receiving ongoing treatment with a keyworker (within their local NHS or third sector agency). The study is researching the links between substance use and domestic abuse and how to support both victims and perpetrators. The ADVANCE intervention is now being repurposed with adaptations for the Covid-19 pandemic to be delivered across the UK online and supported remotely by facilitators. This adapted version of the intervention comes after successful trials in England.
You can access the article here.
It is well documented there has been a marked increase in domestic violence since the onset of the first national lockdown. A report released to UK MPs showed that domestic abuse killings doubled in the first 21 days of the first lockdown and domestic abuse charities have reported a huge increase in the use of domestic violence helplines and requests for help.
One of the responses to this crisis is a new scheme rolled out yesterday, which allows victims trapped in their homes to discretely pass on a message to a pharmacist that they need help. Pharmacists in the UK have been trained to support survivors of DV and to spot signs of possible domestic violence in their customers. The idea is that people who use the word Ani (Action needed immediately) or who may show signs of domestic abuse are offered to sit in a private space then the pharmacist contacts domestic violence services for them or the police. One advantage of using pharmacists for this role is that they are available widely in all communities and as a provider of health care and toiletries are less likely to be seen as suspicious by an abuser.
Johanna Beresford, who has been involved in training programmes to help staff at Tesco and Boots on how to identify domestic abuse victims stuck at home previously told The Independent they are hoping to “demystify myths” of domestic abuse for staff who are regularly in contact with the public. She said: “We are providing people with information from previous scenarios so they can spot signs, know things to say and how to point someone in the right direction.’. This includes noticing when people are very regularly in a store maybe multiple times a day and are only buying one or two items or noticing when customers wear clothes that do not mirror the weather (such as long jumpers in hot weather to hide bruises). Other signs are “If they seem very withdrawn or anxious as they are walking around the supermarket or pharmacy, or won’t look at you look when you serve them as they’re too nervous – these could also be signs of domestic abuse.”. The victims commissioner in England Vera Berd and the Domestic Violence commissioner Nicole Jacobs both support the scheme. A four week national advertising campaign is also being run concurrently to make sure that domestic abuse victims know how they can gain access to help.
You can read more about the scheme here.