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Discussion Topic: Why is Domestic Abuse different within BME communities?

By Shauna from Savera UK

In Merseyside alone, the police have dealt with 4,622 offences of domestic abuse between April 2016 and March 2017. However, the numbers here may be so much higher due to the amount of unreported domestic abuse cases every day.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is where the perpetrator seeks power and control over their victim. Domestic abuse is not always just physical, there are many other forms of domestic abuse; psychological, sexual, emotional or even financial. Within black and minority ethnic communities, there is more likely to be more than one perpetrator controlling the victim. The perpetrators may not just be family members or spouses but can include extended family or even community leaders and members who support the abuse. The abuse can occur for many reasons but in a lot of these cases it may be because the victim is not agreeing to the wishes of the family or the expectations of the community e.g. not agreeing to an arranged marriage, dressing in western clothing, identifying as LGBT. The victim may be subject to domestic abuse as they are being told they are bringing “shame” on the family and this is where honour based abuse becomes prevalent in these cases.

Who can be affected by domestic abuse?

According to the Office for National Statistics, “an estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year, according to the year ending March 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales (1.2 million women, 713,000 men)”. These statistics show that it is mostly women that suffer from domestic abuse. The International Day of Violence against Women is 25th November. The statistics for women and violence are a constantly rising figure. According to The White Ribbon Campaign, two women are killed a week by their partner or ex-partner, approximately 80,000 women suffer rape and attempted rape every year, 45% of UK women have experienced some form of domestic abuse and sexual violence or stalking – the list is endless. Furthermore, the NHS have reported that between April 2016 and March 2017 there were 9,179 attendances reported at NHS trusts and GP practices where FGM was identified or a procedure for FGM was undertaken. In addition, the Forced Marriage Unit found that in 2016, the majority of cases 1,145 (80%) involved women victims, while 283 cases (20%) involved male victims and was not a problem specific to one country or culture. According to "'Honour' Killings in the UK" by Emily Dyer, the majority of victims of ‘honour’ killings and HBV are girls and women. 57 of all reported UK cases in the past five years, the majority of victims were females (22 females/7 males).

How do we tackle domestic abuse within BME communities?

It is very difficult to try and challenge beliefs and practices which are deeply embedded within cultures, but neither culture, traditions nor religion should be used to justify abuse. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and as professionals, we need to work together to:

  • Ensure protection for those who are victims or under threat of domestic abuse.
  • Respond to the 'one chance rule' at all-times to ensure safeguarding and protection.
  • Be sensitive to culture, but at the same time not be blinded by cultural acceptance.
  • Remember that this is everybody’s business agenda, that can happen anytime and anywhere.

If you want to find out more about domestic abuse within BME communities then please contact us by emailing info@saverauk.co.uk and look out for our training courses.



Photograph by Volkan Olmez

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