Today the Crown Prosecution Service released a report stating there has been more than 107,000 prosecutions for violence against women in the past year. This figure is up 16,000 (18%) on the previous year.
These figures are for crimes ‘primarily’ against women, but male victims are also included. The statistics include cases of rape, domestic violence and so called ‘honour’ crimes or shame based violence.
These figures are shocking. But the figure of 107,000 prosecutions actually masks the bigger issue of violence against women. 1 in 4 women in the UK will suffer violence during their lifetime, and two women a week are killed at the hands of a partner or former partner. There are many women who are suffering abuse and not coming into contact with the available services to help them.
In Churches Too
Domestic Abuse is in our churches too. Premier Christianity magazine, in conjunction with Restored, ran a survey on domestic abuse in Christian homes. The results showed not only that domestic abuse ‘happened here’ but that multiple and repeated abuse over years took place. This was confirmed in the 2013 Evangelical Alliance 'How's the family' report.
Cases of grooming women and girls online to then meet and abuse or rape them were detailed in today's report.
The Internet was outlined, not as the cause of abuse, but as enabling abuse to occur. The Internet has made abusing others easier, quicker and more anonymous (although not completely anonymous as IP addresses can be traced).
Too often in our recent past violence against women, particularly domestic abuse, has been seen as ‘just a domestic’. This minimises and reduces the often horrific abuse and violence, to something that is seen to be dealt with behind four walls.
The positive part of this story, if there is a positive, is that prosecutions are increasing. This means women are being listened to, heard and taken seriously.
Domestic abuse affects us all. At the hard-nosed economic end we pay for it through our taxes, but closer to home it ruins relationships, strains friendships, affects children and ultimately can lead to a woman’s death.
What can we do?
If you are being abused, report it. Speak out and get the help and support you need. People are available and will listen.
If you are being abused online, report it to the website/organisation straight away. Twitter and Facebook have both improved their reporting structures recently (although there is always room for improvement). If you can, keep the evidence of the abuse safely stored. This will help with tracing and prosecution.
Talk about domestic abuse policy and procedures in your church. Download Restored’s church pack to help you start and ask Restored for training for your church.
Men can join First Man Standing and sign up to never committing, condoning or remaining silent about abuse.
- Pray for victims and survivors of violence that they get the help and support they need to bring healing and restoration
- Pray for men to stop abusing women and to gain access to programmes that Respect run.
- Pray for organisations like Restored, Refuge and Women’s Aid who are working to address this issue, often facing backlash and funding shortages.
If you are being abused please call the National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247