I was going to write about something else this week, but I have just watched BBC3’s “Murdered by my boyfriend’’ and it reminds me that we can never re-enforce the message harder that any form of abusive relationship is a bad one.

It might have been an anonymous account but it was one based upon truth. And even had it not been, our national and local papers are littered with examples of tragic stories where women, and men, have ignored the early signs of abuse, and made excuses for their partner’s dreadful behaviour, with all too tragic consequences.

Two women each week are killed by their partner or former partner, which accounts for one third of all female homicide victims. One in four women in their lifetimes will be victims of domestic abuse. Domestic violence accounts for 16 per cent of all reported violent crime. It’s not just a female issue, and men can also be victims. Nobody should put up with an abusive relationship.

Sobering statistics. So what can victims look out for?

Examples of triggers for abusive behaviour include:

  • Cyber bullying – being stalked or harassed on Facebook or Twitter or other social networking sites
  • Financial control – only allowing you a certain amount of money, watching what you spend, checking your receipts etc.
  • Asking who you are seeing, where you’re going, what you’re doing etc.
  • Trying to control you through your children or family.
  • Pressure tactics. Making you feel guilty, telling you they love you after arguments or assaults. Yes, it can be making up, but it can also be a very controlling behaviour trait, designed to trigger feelings of guilt. Controlling you by monitoring your phone use, including nowadays the use of apps that can track your whereabouts.
  • Destructive verbal criticism including constant mocking, shouting, name calling.
  • Sexual violence.
  • Physical violence. So what can I do about it?

Don’t tolerate this behaviour! If it won’t stop, get out, and seek help! Call the police. Dial 999 if you feel your safety is at risk. If things have calmed, seek help from the police or from the National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247.

You may have sufficient grounds for a Non Molestation Order (an “injunction’’) which is a Court Order preventing your partner from this behaviour and making it a criminal offence if he or she breaches the order, and possibly an Occupation Order which is an order preventing your partner from entering your property. Take legal advice about this from a family solicitor, preferably a Resolution member, to look at your options. You may be entitled to Legal Aid for this.

Speak to your GP or midwife or health visitor, or to support workers at your local children centre.

If it feels unsafe to use any of these resources, think about what agencies your partner will not be surprised at you accessing, such as school, or the early intervention hub if you have teenagers.

A small tip I was once given by a GP was to suggest to victims of domestic abuse that they ask for a double appointment, so that the GP has the time to listen and help.

If you have children, please consider what harm your child might be suffering simply by hearing what might be happening to you, and what examples are being set to your child about how relationships should be. You may think they haven’t seen anything, but at the very least they will pick up on the atmosphere and have probably overheard more than you think. And you certainly don’t want them to learn this behaviour!

Please take note. Please don’t be yet another tragic statistic, and get help.

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