Women’s Aid responds to latest ONS report, ‘Women Most at Risk of Experiencing Partner Abuse in England and Wales’
Thursday 31st May 2018
Sian Hawkins, Head of Campaigns and Public Affairs, said:
“From our work with survivors, we know that women of all ages are living with domestic abuse – regardless of whether they have just embarked on their first relationship or have been married for decades. We also know that younger women experience abuse at shockingly high rates but are less likely to access vital support services. We want to change this.
“Today’s ONS statistics show that a higher proportion of younger women between the ages of 16-24 experienced domestic abuse in the last year than women aged 45-59. Our culture often portrays controlling behaviour as a sign of being desired or loved when in fact coercive and controlling behaviour is at the heart of domestic abuse. This can make it more difficult for younger women, who may be entering into their first relationship, to identify abusive behaviours or question them, and as a result they may not speak out about the abuse or know that domestic abuse services can help them.
“Our research in partnership with Cosmopolitan.com/UK revealed that a shocking one third of young women had been in an abusive relationship, while over two thirds of young women who said they hadn’t experienced domestic abuse had experienced one of more ‘red flag’ behaviours of abuse. Yet our 2017 Annual Survey reveals that this age group is less likely to access support services; only 3.7% of women resident in refuge and 6.4% of women accessing community-based support services were in the 16-20 age bracket. Only by breaking down the myths about who abuse happens to can we ensure that every survivor gets the support she needs to rebuild a life free from abuse.
“That’s why we are calling on the government to use the Domestic Abuse Bill to break down the barriers facing young women in disclosing abuse and accessing help to ensure that every survivor gets the support she needs, when she needs it. The government’s commitment to introduce compulsory relationships and sex education in schools from 2019 is a welcome first step. It must be delivered as part of a ‘whole school’ approach to tacking sexism and sexual harassment within the school setting, with a clear focus on domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls to teach all young people what a healthy relationship looks like. Until then, Women’s Aid has teamed up with Cosmopolitan.com/UK to help raise awareness of what domestic abuse is. We want to let younger women know that they are not alone, Women’s Aid is here to support you. Visit www.womensaid.org.uk or access our guide to healthy relationships for young people www.lovedontfeelbad.co.uk.”
Read the full ONS report, ‘Women Most at Risk of Experiencing Partner Abuse in England and Wales: years ending March 2015 to 2017’, online here.
For further information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office on:
[email protected] / 020 7566 2511