Domestic abuse: Two words that are used freely on a daily basis. Everyone has heard of it, it is often shown as a storyline in your favourite TV series. However, not everyone likes to discuss it or feels that they can. It can be considered a taboo subject by many. It does not happen in their family.
This social stigma has prevented many of the older generation from speaking out about what happens behind closed doors. Grandparents, who have been married for 30+ years, may appear to smile fondly at each other in public, however, is it a smile perfected over the years to hide inner anguish.
Domestic abuse comes in many forms. It is often misconstrued that only physical abuse amounts to this. This is false. Emotional, sexual, psychological and even financial abuse can each have an impact upon a person’s life whatever their age.
It was widely accepted in the 1950’s that the wife's role was usually to stay at home and look after the children whilst the husband went out to work. Often families would be on the larger side and the husband controlled the finances, therefore, his wage put food on the table, clothes on the children’s backs and a roof over their heads. If the husband came back, having been drinking with his work colleagues and gave his wife "a good hiding" that happened in all marriages didn't it? Even if those affected were to speak out about their abuser, who would listen anyway? Was this not just the way it was behind closed doors.?
Up until The Family Law Act 1996, there was nobody to turn to; there were no organisations that offered support to victims of domestic abuse. The older generation would not have been able to obtain an injunction which would prevent the abuser from being able to approach them or incite harm against them. The police considered these types of incidents as simple domestics, something that husbands and wives should work through themselves, rather than as a crime. It was extremely difficult for anybody to escape this type of relationship. As the years of marriage flew by: silver, diamond and jubilee wedding anniversaries, children grew up, grandchildren were born and all too often victims would think what good would it do to leave now?
Today, domestic abuse is widely recognised and help is available to anyone who needs it, regardless of their age or gender. Organisations in Worcestershire that offer assistance are West Mercia Women's Aid, Worcestershire Forum against Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse, The Dawn Project, Stonham and Victim Support.
You should NEVER have to suffer and never in silence.
If you are suffering from Domestic Abuse in the Worcestershire area please contact Suzanne Oldnall, Head of Domestic Abuse Team or visit our Domestic Abuse Drop In Centre at Haswell House, St Nicholas Street, Worcester WR1 1un.
Article by Charlotte Todd
Trainee Solicitor Family Law