Gender-based violence

Inclusive Social Welfare & Empowerment Foundation Gender-based violence

Gender - based violence or Domestic Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is the most persistent yet least visible human rights violation in the world. It takes numerous forms: Intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and child marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking for sexual exploitation, female infanticide, and ‘honour’ crimes are common – with intimate partner violence occurring at staggering rates in every country. Girls and women may also experience gender-based violence when they are deprived of nutrition and education.

Domestic violence and abuse is defined as

"Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional."

Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

What is Coercive Behaviour?

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. We campaigned and succeeded in making coercive control a criminal offence. This has marked a huge step forward in tackling domestic abuse. But now we want to make sure that everyone understands what it is.

Coercive control creates invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim’s life. It works to limit their human rights by depriving them of their liberty and reducing their ability for action. Experts like Evan Stark liken coercive control to being taken hostage. As he says: “the victim becomes captive in an unreal world created by the abuser, entrapped in a world of confusion, contradiction and fear.”

Abuse takes many forms

It can be emotional, physical, sexual or financial. It can be words or actions. At home or in the street. It can be inflicted by a partner, ex-partner, family member, colleague, friend or stranger. It can be in person, through technology and online. Whatever form it takes, abuse is never justified. Any behaviour that demeans, frightens or distresses is abuse. It has to stop. Knowing what abuse is helps us all recognise it when it happens. We can all do something to keep women and girls safe. Knowing what abuse is helps us all recognise it when it happens.

Abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual or financial. 

The abuser can be a partner, ex-partner, family member, community leader or member, a friend, someone at work or a stranger.   It can happen to anyone: an adult or a child, female or male.   It can happen at home or in a public place like a community centre, school or work.   It can be in person, or through technology and online.

How do you know if this is happening to you?

Some common examples of coercive behaviour are:

• Isolating you from friends and family • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food • Monitoring your time • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you • Controlling your finances • Making threats or intimidating you

 Spotting the signs

Is your partner jealous and possessive? Is he charming one minute and abusive the next? Does he tell you what to wear, where to go, who to see? Does he constantly put you down? Does he play mind games and make you doubt your judgment? Does he control your money, or make sure you are dependent on him for everyday things? Does he pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to? Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making him angry? Does he control your access to medicine, devices or care that you need?   Does he monitor or track your movements or messages? Does he use anger and intimidation to frighten and control you?

Will he change? 

It is natural to hope that your partner will change, or that the abuse will stop. Often, an abusive partner will be very sorry after an incident of abuse. He may beg for forgiveness. If you have left him, he may become very charming and convince you to return. He may be on his best behaviour for weeks, or even months, before he becomes abusive again. The truth is that domestic abuse usually gets worse over time. There are perpetrator programmes for men who want to take responsibility for their abuse and change their behaviour for good. However, it is important that you prioritise your safety and wellbeing, and that of your children.

Forms of domestic abuse 

Psychological abuse Includes name-calling, threats and manipulation, blaming you for the abuse or ‘gas-lighting’ you. Economic abuse controlling your access to money or resources. He might take your wages, stop you working, or put you in debt. Sexual abuse doesn’t have to be physical. He might manipulate or coerce you into doing things you don’t want to do. Coercive control when an abuser uses a pattern of behaviour over time to exert power and control. It is a criminal offence. Physical abuse not only hitting. He might restrain you or throw objects. He might pinch or shove you and claim it’s a ‘joke’. Tech abuse He might send abusive texts, demand access to your devices, might be monitoring your mobile and other devices, track you with spyware, or share images of you online. Keep your phone and devices safe

How we can support you

did you know? You are not alone, 1 woman in 4 will experience domestic abuse over the course of her lifetime. Every 30 seconds the police receive a call for help relating to domestic abuse. Every day, our Helpline team speaks to more than 100 survivors and those supporting them .

Myths & Excuses

Myth 1

Alcohol, drugs and stress make men violent Abusers are also violent when sober. Many men who drink never use violence. These are all excuses.

Myth 2

She would leave if it was really bad there are many overlapping reasons why women may stay. Leaving is difficult and takes time. It is a process.

Myth 3

Abusers grew up in violent homes Violence is a choice an abuser makes; he alone is responsible. It is unrelated to childhood.

Myth 4

Domestic abuse only happens to certain women Domestic abuse can happen to any women regardless of where they live, their profession, or social background.

Myth 5

Some women deserve it Men often claim their partner ‘makes them do it’. This is victim-blaming. The abuser alone is responsible.

Myth 6

He just loses his temper sometimes Abusers say they ‘see red’ sometimes – but they are very much in control, using multiple methods to abuse.

Myth 7

Some women like violence Women do not enjoy violence. Most live in fear and terror. This is victim-blaming.

Myth 8

She's lucky to have him Whether your abuser is also your caregiver, or presents himself as the perfect breadwinner, women often hear they are lucky to have someone 'looking after them'. But you deserve to make choices about your own life.

Myth 9

Domestic abuse is a private matter Domestic abuse is a crime. It is not an individual but a social problem. We all need to speak out against it.

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