Credit crunch could cause rise in domestic abuse

A domestic abuse worker in Tunbridge Wells fears more families will be affected by the crime, which largely goes unreported.

It is feared that the money problems many people will face as a result of the credit crunch could lead to more abusive behaviour.

Other causes of abuse include: learning behaviour from their parents, not seeing it as wrong, a way of exerting power and control over a partner and substance misuse including drugs and alcohol.

Ailsa Paton is domestic abuse services co-ordinator for Tunbridge Wells. She works with organisations in the town’s Community Safety Partnership. She is based at the offices of Town & Country Housing Group which is a member of the CSP.

This page gives details of some of the local initiatives to help tackle domestic abuse. If you are suffering domestic abuse please click here for contact details for some of the organisations that can help you.

Domestic abuse - the problem:
One in four women will experience domestic abuse. This can include emotional, financial, sexual and mental abuse as well as physical assaults.
Nationally two women a week are killed. Last year five women were killed in Kent.
750,000 children a year witness domestic abuse, 75 per cent of these are placed on the child protection register because of it.
70 cases each month are reported to Tunbridge Wells Police. This is thought to be the tip of the iceberg with the true level of abuse at least four times higher.
Most women don’t report domestic abuse; either because they think they won’t be taken seriously or because of fear of repercussions from their abuser.
£686million per year cost per year on the economy of Kent. This includes days off work, loss of income, medical treatment, policing costs. Every death costs £11million.

Local initiatives
Drop-in at the Little Forest Children’s Centre, Friars Way, Sherwood
Open Tuesday and Thursday.

Citizens Advice Bureau: advice and help
CAB has appointed a West Kent case worker to give advice, including specialist legal advice.

Sanctuary Scheme
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has launched a Sanctuary Scheme which can provide extra security measures if these are said to be necessary by the police. Includes extra locks for doors and windows and intruder alarms.

Freedom Programme
This is a 12-week programme which helps women rebuild their confidence and self-esteem and helps women understand that the abuse is not their fault.

Freedom Plus
A follow on support group run by women who have been on the Freedom Programme and helps reinforce what is learned on the Freedom Programme.

CDAP the Community Domestic Abuse Perpetrators programme
This helps men understand the effects of their abusive behaviour and change it. The programme runs over 27 weeks. While men are on the programme, the women’s safety worker works with their partner or ex-partners to support them and ensure that their partner’s behaviour is changing.

Police Domestic Abuse Unit
Trained officers handle domestic abuse cases.

Kent Domestic Abuse Information Line
This puts women in touch with help available in their part of the county.

Abuse of men by women
Local initiatives have so far concentrated on abuse of women by men. However, one in six men are abused by their female partner at some point in their life. Men tend to be reluctant to report domestic violence.
Ailsa is now researching this problem in greater detail and will look at creating services to tackle this problem.