We all like to think we know what an abusive relationship looks like but do we? Ongoing abusive relationships continue because often they may seem normal or even loving on the surface; the reality can be much more sinister. In the year ending March 2018, an estimated 2.0 million adults (1.3 million women, 695,000 men) aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse (source: Office for National Statistics, November 2018); shamefully, we still don’t know exactly how many children experience child abuse in the UK. Fortunately, it’s become more acceptable to talk about domestic and child abuse; despite our “stiff upper lip”, these topics are no longer taboo with more and more people being brave enough to speak out every day.
These statistics make it more important than ever to be aware of AND talk about these issues – even if you’re an experienced care giver. Care goes beyond the professional realm; no carer enters the industry without having a duty of care to help stamp out abuse wherever it’s present. And this goes for anyone outside the care industry too. As a society, we have a collective responsibility because we know that abuse whatever its form can affect any one of us. It’s up to us as individuals to speak up & take action. If there’s still any doubt, take a look at BBC2’s BAFTA nominated, harrowing documentary “Behind Closed Doors” which examines the horrific impact of domestic violence.
As abuse continues to be a part of our society, it’s essential to keep safeguarding front of mind; to be vigilant and to know where to seek help if abuse is suspected so that we can support each other in our communities and online. At Menter, our aim is to equip people with an awareness of abuse, so they can spot the signs and symptoms whilst being mindful of the many misconceptions that are out there. It’s only then that people can feel empowered & safe to raise their concerns with the relevant people and support services.
‘Safeguarding’ is a term used to explain the measures taken to protect the health, well-being and human rights of individuals, aiming to allow for people to live free from abuse, harm and neglect. (wording isn’t good but difficult to sum up?) Being aware of the aspects of safeguarding, and what it means as a whole, can help us to support any children or individuals within our communities as best we can.
You may already be aware of some, if not all, of the major signs of abuse but it’s important to ask yourself a simple question: what would you do if you became aware of an un-reported case of abuse? Maybe you’ve seen the signs, or there’s something about a person’s behaviour in your care that has raised a concern for you? Who would you speak to?
This can be daunting; nobody wants to point a finger based on a suspicion or a feeling, so how do you know your suspicions may be valid? We want to dispel any misconceptions that may act as barriers to reporting abuse so that people feel they’re on safe ground in confronting abuse. Here are just two of the many prevailing assumptions about abuse:
MYTH 1: Domestic violence is a private or family matter.
Domestic violence is everyone’s business. Keeping domestic violence secret only helps the perpetrator; studies have shown that it has long lasting effects on children, incurs substantial costs to society, and serves to perpetrate abuse through learned patterns of behaviour. If you suspect someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, don’t stay silent – ACT. Contact one of the many supportive organisations below for advice.
MYTH 2: Online bullying (“cyber bullying”) is just banter and harmless.
Online bullying can be insidious, affecting adults and children alike. It’s a viral issue that can escalate rapidly, spreading beyond the bullied individual’s network of family and friends to the billions of keyboard ‘trolls’ who hide behind their screens. If someone you know is being bullied online, take a screenshot of any conversations, messages or posts that you feel are bullying so you have a record & can act appropriately. The effects of cyber bullying are profound and potentially fatal, impacting mental health and driving substance misuse and suicide.
Remember that if you feel that someone is in danger, being harmed or abused, there is always someone that can support you. Click on any of the following links to for advice and support:
Children and Family:
- Family Lives – Bullying Support
- Childline: 0800 1111
- Child Safeguarding: The Children’s Commissioner for Wales
Care regulatory authorities:
If you feel you’d like to build upon your knowledge or you may benefit from additional training, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can offer flexible, tailored courses to suit your training needs.