Tim Farron MP writes: We need a holistic approach to eliminate domestic violence once and for all

Today is the Comprehensive Spending Review and all eyes will be on The Chancellor. However, it is also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, marking an issue that affects all of us in the UK and across the globe.

Here in the UK domestic violence continues to be a horrific, often hidden scar on our society. Websites such as Counting Dead Women are a terrible reminder of the human cost of violence against women. Figures show that one in four women will suffer domestic abuse in their lifetime and two women are killed by partners each week. It is incomprehensible to me that more isn’t being done to eliminate this abhorrent crime.

We need to make sure that women feel they can speak out and get the help they need so they aren’t left trapped in their own homes. Women’s Aid have said that on average a woman will have suffered 35 separate incidents of domestic violence before going to the police. We need to ask ourselves why.

One of the main reasons is that if a woman leaves the family home she may not feel she has another safe place to go or be confident she can take her children. This is where shelters and refuges offer a service to vulnerable people who have nowhere else to turn.

At today’s Autumn Statement, and in the forthcoming local government settlement George Osborne and the Tories are expected to announce further cuts. This will undoubtedly impact on the provision of refuges and shelters for victims of domestic violence which receive funding from local councils. These vital services are in the firing line and they shouldn’t be. They are the sanctuaries that give women the space, time and protection they need to safely think and rebuild their lives.

In Coalition, my colleague Norman Baker ring-fenced £40m for local support services and national helplines dealing with domestic violence. However, with budgets being slashed, shelters and refuges will close down or have to turn women away due to a lack of capacity.

More widely, a holistic approach is needed if we want to eliminate domestic violence once and for all. One of our last acts in Coalition was to introduce a new offence of coercive and controlling behaviour in the Serious Crime Bill and this Government must remain on the look out to ensure women have legal recourse. There needs to be a joined up approach to ensure that women are empowered to leave abusive relationships and supported in rebuilding their lives.

* Tim Farron is Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Refugees and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

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8 Comments

  • I have a lot to say on this subject. Just spent half an hour writing a response but sadly it is “too long”. I will write a proper response when home

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Nov '15 - 11:20am

    Sorry, Erika.. We have a 500 word limit on comments. Would you like to turn it into an article for the site?

  • Kirsten johnson 26th Nov '15 - 8:11am

    Thanks, Tim, for this article. Yes, we need a holistic, comprehensive approach to a problem which permeates all levels of society. If we, as Lib Dems, want a fair, free and equal society, the massive issue of domestic violence must be tackled. Thank you for taking a lead on this. The fact that very few people have written in is, I believe, a silent witness to the fact this issue is close and personal to many, many people. Children and men, not just women, are victims of domestic violence. Statistics are not a true representation as much goes unreported. Many around us, unknown to us, bear the scars of hidden, familial violence. Let’s do whatever we can to help.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Nov '15 - 9:33am

    @ Erika Bell,
    Please do write a full article on this subject. The important actors in this fight to prevent ‘ ” domestic violence’, (such a cosy term) , has been and always will be, women and women’s groups.

    The Femicide Census is an important tool for analysing the relationship between a woman and her killer, and already points to the fact that the killing of women is never isolated it is systemic and related to women’s position in society.

    Tim says that money was ring fenced during the coalition years, but refuges were closed and specialist services and refuges for black and minority ethnic women were particularly hard hit.

    If non violent men want to help women who suffer from partner abuse, they could do, as some to their credit do now, challenge the ‘whataboutery’, every time the position of women in society is raised. In short, they could start listening to women.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 26th Nov '15 - 10:53am

    Tim Farron raises some vitally important issues, but a truly holistic approach to domestic violence needs to go much further than this. The only way to eliminate domestic violence, is to ensure that boys are taught, from a very early age, to respect women and girls, to regard them as equals, and to understand that violence is totally unacceptable in all circumstances.

  • It is impossible to “eliminate domestic violence once and for all”, we can only reduce it, (unless you lock every imperfect person in solitary confinement for ever.)

  • Simon Oliver 27th Nov '15 - 1:44pm

    It’s hard to have a holistic approach if you ignore the 4% of men between 19 and 59 who are victims of domestic violence and continue to talk as if only women are victims.

    http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/abuse/Pages/domestic-violence-against-men.aspx

    There is a gender disparity here, and I am not attempting to dismiss the larger problem of violence against women, but it is not nearly as large as the failure to acknowledge violence against men might suggest.

    http://safelives.org.uk/policy-evidence/about-domestic-abuse?gclid=Cj0KEQiAm-CyBRDx65nBhcmVtbIBEiQA7zm8lXs67KGyjcjVtRzF0cUBO-MzIi_LmBHMf1k80fTa3AoaAt3Q8P8HAQ#facts and stats
    Each year around 2.1m people suffer some form of domestic abuse – 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population)

    So yes – definitely be holistic in our approach, and that means stop acting like domestic violence against men doesn’t exist.

    http://www.oneinthree.com.au/malevictims

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Nov '15 - 2:25pm

    @ Simon Oliver,

    Given the 100 word limit on posts, could I refer you to a Daily Telegraph article that covers what I would say in response to your post.

    ‘Domestic violence could not be further from gender neutral. Wake up Britain’, available online.

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