Almost half of all women in the UK have reported that they, or someone close to them, has been the victim of gender-based abuse, and more than a third (36 per cent) of UK women have experienced psychological abuse, a new study has revealed.
Despite these high figures, 59 per cent of UK women don’t know where to seek help and even if they do, 28 per cent – equating to 9 million – don’t trust the legal system to treat this abuse as a crime.
The large-scale study of 4,400 women from 15 countries was commissioned by Avon and the UN to establish the extent of gender-based violence, and coincides with the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based abuse.
The proportion of women who don’t trust the legal system to deal with abuse was higher in the UK than in any country surveyed with the exception of Russia.
Not only do women not know where to report abuse, or trust the police and courts to take it seriously but around three quarters (73 per cent) fear that seeking help will make the abuse worse.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge says: “One woman in four in the UK will experience domestic abuse at some point in her lifetime, and it is important to recognise that domestic abuse is not always physical, it can be emotional, economic or sexual.”
In response to the findings, AVON has launched a new global campaign, #EmbraceTheChange, to draw attention to unspoken violence. The campaign aims to shines a light on different forms of non-physical abuse including digital harassment, coercive control and emotional abuse.
Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid said: “Many girls are abused in their very first relationship, and do not know what a healthy relationship looks like or what support is available to them.”
How do you know if you are experiencing psychological abuse? “If a woman is forced to alter her behaviour because she is frightened of her partner’s reaction, she is being abused,” says Horley.
“And it’s essential that anyone experiencing abuse, or who knows someone who is affected, knows where to seek support.”
- Refuge– Domestic violence help for women and children – 0808 2000 247
- Visit Women’s Aid– support for abused women and children – or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247
- Broken Rainbow– The LGBT domestic violence charity – 0845 2 60 55 60
- Men’s Advice Linefor advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse – 0808 801 0327