How we view family is based on experience; those lucky enough to have grown up in a loving environment in which they feel safe and secure will of course view the family in such a way that reflects the upbringing they have had. Unfortunately there are those who were not lucky enough to live in the comfort of their family but rather the fear of it – abuse in all its forms can take it’s toll on family life and this again will reflect in how a person will view the family.
The Nuclear Family ?
Family is a broad and contested term, it can be intimate and exclusive or far and unlimited. This is due to the many different ways that people define the family. A traditional nuclear family consists of the father and mother with biological offspring, however this term in widely becoming out-dated within the 21st century due to the newer family class that can include single parents, LGBT parenting as well as the largely used step-parent styles, adoptive parents as well fostering services. Family can also include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This leaves us with a wide scope to what family actually entails. With the vast membership of a family it also leaves room for a lot of different types of family based crimes. For example, neglect, child abuse, domestic violence and elderly abuse. As there are so many different forms of abuse they often overlap under different headings, for example, emotional and physical abuse can come under both domestic violence and elderly abuse.
As previously stated personal experience with the family is what will base a person’s perception on what family is to them and the term of family is contested because of its many definitions. Family can seem personal but it is also a political and financially targeted term. David Cameron (2014) delivered a speech in which he outlines the importance of the family. He begins by introducing his own view of a family and his role before continuing on to how important the family is in terms of providing support to its individual members, he also comments on the power that the family holds and how the strong values and traditions within the family can help the family in becoming able bodies within society. Eventually, Cameron begins to talk about family breakdowns in society and the emotional toll they can take and then explaining how the cost to the economy for break down in families is estimated £44 Billion each year.
A copy of the speech can be found here : (Cameron ,2014 )
David Cameron began his speech by explaining how a family is individual from the state with the use of its independent family values and strong family ties, he then proceeds to talk to how the state can better equip families into maintaining the family bond. Then he discusses multiple issues such as unemployment, financial earnings, births of children and even leads into domestic violence. Disturbingly, Cameron makes it clear that it makes more financial sense for the family to stay together in times of hardship. Furthermore, this kind of speech furthers the idea of governmental control over the state; a governmental figure is delivering an argument around the welfare of family. This idea has been investigated by Amanda Holt in Squires ABSO nation (2008) in which she evaluates the use of parenting orders as a form of social control over the family in order to gain a better behaved youth, the government are intervening in the family model to gain a better control over its society.
“The campaign premieres on Thursday, March 5th at The Screen @ Canary Wharf in London and then rolls out to the The Screen @ New Street in Birmingham and Eat Street @ Westfield London on March 7th and 8th.”
So What is Domestic Violence ?
The Home Office in 2013 republished the definition that they used to describe domestic violence so that it included both controlling and coercive as well as violence and abuse between those aged 16 or over who have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The definition includes different types of abuse such as: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional. The controlling behaviour section includes a range of acts that can make a person subordinate or dependent. Also included are victims being isolated from sources of support or their resources being exploited for personal gain as people can not be deprived of their independence. Coercive behaviour is defined as an act or pattern of assaults, threats, humiliation, intimidation or any other behaviour that is used to harm, punish or frighten the victim. As of 2013, honour based violence as well as female genital mutilation and forced marriage were included in the definition. Victims are not confined to one gender or ethnicity group.
(Home Office, 2013)
In 2013 there were approximately 1.2 million women and 700,000 men who suffered from domestic abuse (Gay, 2013). However, based on the figured produced from the BCS for England and Wales it is estimated that 30.0% of women and 16.3% of men had experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16 which is equivalent to around 4.9 million female and 2.7 million male victims (Gay, 2013). These figures are based on a small percentage of reported cases however as it is estimated that only 21% of victims of partner abuse reported it to the police (Gay,2013). By analysing data that has been reported by the Crown Prosecution Service shows that from 2007 – 2014 the rates of prosecution and conviction rates within domestic violence have been increasing, with there being 63819 prosecutions and 43977 convictions, a total of 63.91% in total from 2007-08 and 78071 prosecutions and 58276 convictions, a total of 74.64% in 2013-14 (Crown Prosecution Service).
There are a few options that are available to those who are battling domestic violence such as Domestic violence protection orders (DVPO’s) which were brought into full effect in March 2014. However 85% of professionals that were involved in a government study admitted that the current laws do no offer suitable protection for people who may be victims of domestic violence, especially those suffering from coercive or controlling behaviours (Home Office, 2014). It is estimated by the Home Office that the cost of domestic homicide in the UK currently stands at over one million pounds, a figure around £1,097,330 for each death (Women’s Aid, 2
014). It is important to note that domestic violence cuts across race, class, gender, culture and age. This means that it is possible for everyone to become a victim, including children. The NSPCC submitted a report in 2014 titled “How safe are our children?” in which it outlines some of the modern-day issues that children come across, this includes domestic violence with 1,796,244 children having been affected from 2013 – 2014 (Jütte et al
It is clear to see that domestic violence affects a lot of people per year, this heinous crime causes a lot of pain to a lot of people and can tear families apart. A lot of charities have been set up to directly assist people in their escape and recovery, the main charity that the government will refer victims to is Women’s Aid. Women’s Aid are a national charity with offices in both Scotland and England that tackle domestic abuse; their website is full of helpful information and contact information for different groups of people as well as a survivors forum in which people can share their stories of abuse and survival in order to encourage others to seek help. However this website is mainly directed at women, charities have been set up to work with different groups of people such as men, children as well for those in the LGBT communities.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
― C.G. Jung
Leaving an abusive relationship is just one barrier to victims of domestic abuse and this can be tough; not only does the victim have to come to terms with their victimisation they also have to find the courage to overcome the restraints that have been holding them back. This difficulty can be magnified by multiple reasons such as language barriers, fear, children, money or even mental health issues. Choosing to leave is the first step of the recovery programme but unfortunately this does not always ensure safety with domestic violence having the largest number of repeat victimisation as cited by Dodd et al (Women’s Aid, 2006). Once a victim has left the environment the first step will be finding help, this may be from a government service or from a refuge set up by specialist charities. However, mental health issues in survivors of domestic violence are common, the survivors handbook on Women’s Aid states that abused women are three times more likely to experience anxiety disorders than those who don’t experience abuse which can lead them on to other issues throughout their recovery (Womensaid.org.uk, n.d.)
To end this section it is important to state that abuse is never the victims fault
and they have every right to receive help to aid in both their escape and in their recovery. Domestic violence is still prominent in 2015 which is problematic in itself and an important question to ask is: Is the state doing enough to support and put a stop to domestic violence to the best of its ability?