During the average period of three years, some victims will have been attacked over 50 times.
What is extremely disturbing is that over 85% of all victims have some form of contact with possible professional help an average of five times during the final year of abuse, before they receive help that is effective. Nearly a quarter of all victims visit A & E as a result of injuries suffered, in some cases on as many as 15 separate occasions.
Charity calls for action
The charity is calling on all professionals to ask about domestic abuse on every occasion when this might be indicated. This would include police, ambulance personnel, A & E staff, GP’s, social workers, and midwives.
According to Diana Barran, the Chief Executive of Safe Lives, the results of the research show that this is yet more damning evidence that domestic abuse can be stopped far earlier than it actually is. She says that every conversation with a professional is an opportunity for victims to get the help and assistance that they need, but far too many are being missed.
She is quoted as saying that, even though victims and their children come into contact with professionals on many occasions, opportunities for spotting domestic abuse are missed time after time. She says that it is totally unacceptable that victims try to get help on many occasions without success, which leaves them living in constant fear, and the risk of permanent damage – both physicals and mental – to their children.
“Every professional should ensure that victims feel safe enough to speak out about the abuse that they are suffering in the home,” said Barran.
The charity is calling on all professionals to enquire about domestic abuse on every occasion that they consider it might be a factor, and also to understand what action to take if their fears are confirmed.
Safe Lives has the largest database in the UK of domestic abuse cases, totaling more than 35,000 in the last five years – an average of 140 cases every week. The figures show that, on average, families suffer for 2.7 years before getting help.
In the last 12 months before receiving effective help, 85% of all victims were in touch with the police, A & E, or their GP. This figure is lower than the actual total, since it does not include other professionals such as midwives, social workers, housing associations, and so on.
Three quarters of all victims reported the abuse to the police. 10% of medium risk victims and 23% of high risk victims visited an A & E department.
Safe Lives says that at any moment there are 100,000 victims in England and Wales at serious risk of suffering serious injury or being murdered. It estimates that 130,000 children are at risk, and 60% of them suffer physical harm, in addition to mental harm occasioned by abuse to other family members.
Safe Lives has produced an informative leaflet for such people as GP’s, nurses, teachers, midwives, drug and alcohol services, which explains how to identify victims, what sort of questions to ask, and what further action to take.
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