You can be a link in the chain
Gibraltar Citizens Advice Bureau will today be joining our colleagues in the UK in a campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence and how you can be of help.
Domestic Abuse is a deep scar running through society today, and tackling it deserves to be a priority. Many people experience abuse from a partner. This abuse can cause deep and lasting harm to victims, with repercussions continuing even after separation, and beyond the immediate family to friends, colleagues and communities.
Harm can be physical and psychological, but alwaysit can also spill over into work and family life, homes savings and debt.
“No one asked, no one asked me and I just didn’t tell”.
Despite the harm abuse causes, victims struggle to acknowledge and disclose whats happening to them and seek support.
They face complex personal and practical barriers to admitting abuse and accessing help, as their lives are often intricately intertwined, in terms of emotions, network and resources, with that of the perpetrator.
Victims worry about implications of accessing services for their children. Despite changing public attitudes, some people who have been subject to abuse feel stigmatized and so can be reluctant to admit and seek help, even to those close to them.
Feelings of shame or blame aren’t solely instilled by the perpertrator. Most women said they wouldn’t want anyone to know if they are victims of abuse.
Sometimes abusive relationships escalate, going unrecognized and undiscussed for a long time making the victim feel very isolated.
Friends and family can be a key link in the chain to leaving the abuse behind as in many instances victims can struggle to tell anyone about the abuse and seek help.
Abuse can go unnoticed if the victim is successful and confident in public we may be less quick to spot and challenge abuse.
Even if people are aware of abuse, supporters may be unsure whether its appropiate to engage.
It’s a sensitive subject and people are understandably worried about doing the wrong thing or exarcerbating the problem. Many may feel unable to start such a difficult conversation.
If the abuse is ongoing, family & friends close to a victim may be struggling to understand why they won’t leave, the relationship or make changes.
Breadening the range of people who might help opens the door to escape from abuse. Providing individuals with advice and information helps people to gain access to specialist support.
When one talks about domestic abuse we are also talking about non-physical abuse in their, or each others, relationships.
Harm can be caused between family members, as well as couples, between former partners as well as current, and regardless of gender or sexuality.
Clear signposting to specialist services could help support victims and friends and family with understanding their options, their risks and where they can-confidentially get further support.
Fundamentally we need to encourage people to consider those close to them, and if they have concerns, to safely ask about abuse and be able to signpost them to the relevant authorities to access help.
By encouraging people to recognise domestic abuse and safely engage with friends who may be experiencing domestic abuse, they can enable victims to seek appropriate support. While it is a difficult, and delicate, conversation, we know that talking to somebody about whether they are experiencing domestic abuse makes it easier for victims to disclose.
As part of our awareness campaign. Gibraltar CAB has introduced guidelines on how to be a link in the chain and help provide to individuals who could be suffering any form of abuse to gain access to specialist advice.