A complex issue
Watching a clip from the Oprah interview with Rihanna this morning I am reminded just how complex, frightening and confusing a social issue we are faced with when dealing with domestic abuse. It is a problem that comes with a huge cost, not just to the victim, but also to society as a whole. Obviously there is an enormous financial cost, with a great deal of time required from professionals across health and social care services, as well as domestic abuse providers, but the cost in terms of human suffering is incalculable. And, of course, at its worst it can lead to fatalities.
Pathway Project's Response
Pathway Project has been working in this field for 21 years. We have seen strategies introduced, interventions trialled and laws changed. Models of working have gained or lost popularity, and have been abandoned for the next new idea. We have made a great deal of progress and services are now more robust than ever before. What we have not seen in all those years, however, is a change to the number of women being killed each year by a current or former partner. This figure has remained consistent at 2 a week throughout the whole of that time. Are we failing to address the issue? Or is the reality that domestic abuse is increasing and we are reducing what is a rising number of potential homicides?
Penny (name changed to protect identity) came to us as a last resort. She had no choice over whether or not to keep her child. She was reluctant to come and resistant to working with us. She had been told that coming into a refuge was the only option that would enable her to keep her son. Penny was a young mum. She had no support from her own family who had given up hope. She had been forced into the sex industry by her 'boyfriend' who was also her pimp. He was violent and demanding and controlled her completely. He also supplied her with the drugs which helped her to cope with this lifestyle. Leaving meant losing her supply of drugs, her source of income and the person that she saw as her lover and partner. It was more complicated than it sounds to make the choice to leave and she had a lot of emotional investment with this person who was also the father of her child.
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