A third of women don’t know where to go to get support for domestic violence

Today, 5th March, Avon UK and domestic violence charities Refuge and Women’s Aid have released the results of a powerful new survey on women’s recognition of domestic violence

Alesha Dixon leads a Walk of Hope to Westminster (National Pictures)The results show that many women do not understand what constitutes domestic violence.  It also shows that, despite women naming domestic violence as the single biggest issue that is likely to affect them during their lifetime, a third of all respondents (33%) would not know where to seek support.

Over half (51%) of those questioned stated that they know or suspect that someone in their life has experienced domestic violence.

The survey, part of Avon’s ‘Speaking Out in Her Name’ campaign, will be presented this evening at the Houses of Parliament.  The campaign calls for domestic violence to receive the same level of attention as other high profile issues, such as drink driving. Avon, Refuge and Women’s Aid believe that education is key to improving awareness and changing attitudes of future generations.

As part of the campaign, Avon’s Beauty & Empowerment Ambassador, Alesha Dixon is leading domestic violence survivors, families of victims and campaigners on a symbolic walk of hope around Westminster. The walk will commemorate the women who have died as a result of domestic violence.  Shockingly, two women are killed by current or former partners every single week in England and Wales.  The walk also symbolises hope of a positive future free of domestic violence.

Key report findings:

A lack of understanding about what domestic violence is:

  • More than half of respondents (56.6%) either disagreed or didn’t know if excessive jealousy counted as domestic violence
  • Nearly half (47.4%) either disagreed or didn’t know if going through a female partner’s private electronic messages counted as domestic violence
  • Just over half (51.1%) either disagreed (35.1%) or didn’t know (16%) whether a partner making all the monetary decisions is domestic violence

 Domestic violence and young people:

Although physical and sexual violence was widely recognised as domestic violence by the majority of respondents, there was still a level of uncertainty in the lowest age groups:

  •  One in five (20%) of 16-18 year olds stated they did not think/were unsure if pressure from a partner to have sex or do other sexual things constituted domestic violence
  •  18% of 16-18 year olds stated they do not think/are unsure if slapping or hitting is a sign of domestic violence

Both Women’s Aid and Refuge believe that domestic violence includes physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse, and that all of the examples given above constitute domestic violence.

Lack of awareness on where and how to seek help for domestic violence: 

  • When asked what they thought they should do if they knew someone was experiencing domestic violence, 70% of respondents said they should call a domestic violence helpline. But when asked what they would do, only 58% reported that they would actually do this; with this figure dropping to 45% and 35% respectively in the youngest age groups
  • Only 50% of 16-18 year olds stated they would know where to go for help if affected by domestic violence.
  • In contrast, over 90% of 16-18 year olds said they would know where to go for help if they needed contraception. 77% knew which resources to tap into for mental health issues

Where women get their knowledge of domestic violence from:

  • Only 7% of respondents said their knowledge of domestic violence comes from school with this figure rising to 15% of 16-18 year olds

Sandra Horley, CBE, CEO of Refuge, says: “Refuge has worked hard to bring domestic violence out of the shadows ever since we opened the world’s first refuge in 1971. But this issue is still shrouded in myth and misunderstanding. The government needs to invest in powerful awareness raising campaigns to change the attitudes that allow violence and fear to darken so many homes up and down the country. It is essential that unhealthy attitudes and beliefs about violence against women in all professional and public spheres are challenged and addressed too.  Changing social attitudes is not an add-on. It is at the very root of preventing and ending domestic violence.

Avon’s Beauty & Empowerment Ambassador, Alesha Dixon comments: “As the company for women, Avon is a great supporter of domestic violence charities. One in four women will experience Domestic violence in their lives making it the single biggest issue that will affect young women and their peers in their life. Yet the results of research commissioned by Avon show that awareness of domestic violence is still shockingly low and that’s why it’s so important that we raise awareness about a subject that is too often ignored.”

As part of their commitment to the cause, Avon has launched the Empowerment Necklace to celebrate International Woman’s Day to end violence against women. Available from the beginning of March through your local Independent Avon Representative or online at www.avonshop.co.uk, priced £3.50. The profits of the sale of the necklace go to Refuge and Women’s Aid.