The conundrum of domestic violence and deprivation

Yesterday marked the 13th United Nations designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women #IDEVAW. It also marked the start of an annual global campaign for #16 days of activism against gender violence ending on International Human Rights Day (10 December).

On the same day we read in the Guardian that the rate of domestic violence is twice as high as burglary which is amounts to an average of 10% of emergency calls to the police. (Range 21.2% Merseyside – 7.1% Wiltshire).

I find such information perplexing. Take a look at this Church Urban Fund report about poverty “Liverpool features heavily in the list, with five areas making the top ten, including Toxteth West, which has up to 64% of children and 63% of pensioners living in poverty.” This Guardian data map on deprivation speaks for itself.

So one might suppose that there could be a link between domestic abuse and deprivation? Yet, key charity Refuge UK sets out the following Myth of domestic violence:

“Myth: It only happens in poor families on council estates.

Anyone can be abused, no matter where they live or how much money they have. Abused women come from all walks of life. You only have to think of the celebrities we hear about in the papers to realise that money cannot protect you from domestic violence.

Men who abuse women are as likely to be lawyers, accountants and judges as they are milkmen, cleaners or unemployed.”

That men who abuse women include lawyers, accountants and judges is in no doubt. However, the more I learn about domestic violence and abuse the more I am persuaded that whilst a huge, universal and destructive problem, it is also a complex one. One of the many factors involved is likely to be deprivation.

If we ignore the roles of these various factors in our policy we do disservice to those we seek most to protect.


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