Monday, December 30, 2019

Domestic abuse is wrong whoever does it

Levels of domestic abuse in Copeland and in Cumbria as a whole are shocking and have been for some time.

That would be true even just based on the figures for recorded incidents but it is suspected that for every reported case there are many instances for which no complaint is made.

The stereotypical case, which does represent the most common type of abuse, is men attacking their female partners, which is of course completely intolerable behaviour, but the most recent figures show a substantial amount of violence by women against men and within same-sex relationships and this is also totally unacceptable.

It does not help matters that the media does not always take violence against men seriously and sometimes publishes incredibly unhelpful stories. I recall being incensed when one national newspaper ran a disgraceful front page headline accusing two actors who played on-screen tough guys of being "big girls' blouses" in real life over suggestions that their female partners had assaulted them. This sort of thing is not just victim-blaming, but downright dangerous.

If the stories were accurate, both men could probably have put the women concerned in hospital had they hit back. If the paper had meant to imply that they were somehow less masculine because they didn't do so it is difficult to see how the headline would have been different.

Here in Cumbria, new figures released by the Office for National Statistics show a horrifying rise of 113% in domestic violence reports in the county. Between 2016/17 there were 2,703 domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by police. This figure jumped to 5,764, more than doubling, by 2018/19.

Cumbria Police released figures showing they have recorded 7,402 incidents of domestic abuse in 2019 to date.

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said:

“Domestic violence has to be one of the most unpleasant things the police have to deal with. For anyone who has to endure it, at any time of the year, it’s an awful thing.

“I would just say to people, you do not have to endure domestic violence of any sort. Please get in touch with the police and they will take it extremely seriously." 

Detective Chief Inspector Dan St Quintin, who is leading a campaign to encourage victims to come forward, said:

“We are finding that there is an increase in male victims of domestic abuse coming forward and reporting abuse there is a great support group that works out of Safety Net in Carlisle and they run a group for men and that is really supportive, and there is other across the county.

“It’s a myth that it is just a male on female thing, we find that there are more and more male victims coming forward, although the proportion of female victims to male victims is roughly 70 per cent female to 30 per cent male.

“We get reports now from same-sex relationships, it isn’t a heterosexual thing, domestic abuse happens in all relationships. "

It is of course possible that some of the rise in these statistics represents an increased willingness to report domestic abuse, which would be a good, thing, rather than a rise in actual violence. The one thing we can say for certain is that it is much too high.

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