Tag Archives: domestic abuse

Ratifying the Istanbul Convention

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is also the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign which runs to December 10th, Human Rights Day. Two women each week are killed by a male partner here in the UK. One in four women in the UK (one in three internationally) experience abuse. Whilst the majority of victims are women, 700,000 men each year suffer domestic violence.

The Istanbul Convention, which the UK Government has signed but not ratified, was devised to tackle all forms of violence against women and domestic abuse worldwide. The full title, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, covers all forms of violence against women and within domestic situations (including men, women and children).

As it happens, I was present at a conference on Violence and Human Rights in Istanbul back in 2012, the year after Istanbul Convention was written. Hearing Turkish academics and lawyers talk about domestic violence, often from a personal point of view which has influenced their public advocacy, was enlightening and brought home to me the global nature of this issue. 

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The reality of living with, leaving and surviving domestic abuse

I’ve written this in response to Tim Farron’s article regarding domestic violence:

This is a subject very close to my heart, as I have been through this and come out of the other end. The problems started in 2008 when my now ex-husband lost his mother. He subsequently took this out on me, both verbally and physically. As a result I lost all confidence; I lost my career, my self-esteem and I was totally alone. Had I told anyone we still would have been alienated; we needed help as a family, not judgement from those around us.

Anyway, eventually I left. Not because it got worse, but because I could not forgive him for what he had done. Because I was perceived as not being in any immediate danger I found myself homeless. That’s ok. I understand that there are people who needed more immediate shelter. I had no access to funds. He had all the money. I had nowhere to go. I sofa-surfed; homeless. Living out of a holdall at the tolerance of others.

Eventually I scraped the money together for a deposit on a flat. I could rent a bedsit, which I am still renting. I was still contributing to the marital home and had little access to any money (my £1000 savings was barely cutting it, all my cash was tied up in the home). I spoke of the prospect of selling but he was never “ready” to sell. Then, after a year of polite negotiations, he told me I wasn’t entitled to half our flat (bearing in mind I wasn’t planning on looking at his savings and assets, just the home) and he told me to get a solicitor.

At this point my take-home earnings were about £1000 per month. Out of this came my rent (£550 per month), bills and council tax. I was also trying to pay off my credit card debt which I had accumulated as a result of needing to set up a home again (I was allowed 2 pieces of furniture and my clothes from the marital home). This left me with £200 disposable income; not including food. I had no car and never went out. I guessed my life was miserable enough for legal aid. I guessed wrong.

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