In 2018, we started working on an exciting new strand of UK SAYS NO MORE: engaging with parliamentarians and asking them to back our Charter on Prevention which calls for key components of the Domestic Abuse Bill with a focus on prevention.
“We have to ensure that we stop the cycle of abuse, and education is the key. We must not shy away from discussing these issues.”
– Baroness Newlove, Victim’s Comissioner and UK SAYS NO MORE champion.
What are we doing?
We want MPs to stand with us. We are absolutely delighted that now, 150 Parliamentarians in both Commons and Lords have pledged their commitment to ending sexual violence and domestic abuse by signing up to become UK SAYS NO MORE champions.
We are inviting MPs to sign our Charter on Prevention, assisting us to shape the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill and support our work providing tools and resources for individuals and organisations to take action and get involved in ending domestic abuse and sexual violence. We submitted written evidence as part of the Home Affairs Domestic Abuse Inquiry which you can read by clicking here.
JUNE 2019 UPDATE: Promises made for children and the Domestic Abuse Bill
Education secretary Damian Hinds announced his proposed amendments to the school admissions code that would ensure that children fleeing domestic abuse have faster access to school places. UK SAYS NO MORE welcomes this announcement following research by UK SAYS NO MORE, Hestia and Pro Bono Economics. The report reveals the personal cost of childhood exposure to domestic violence, including the difficulties of escaping violence and admitting children into schools in their new area. The announcement has been encouraging and we sincerely hope MP Hinds allocates support and funding to guarantee children’s access to vital services in order to break the cycle of abuse.
On a further note, our submitted recommendations to the pre-legislative committee for the Domestic Abuse Bill have been acknowledged through the identification of children as ‘victims’ of domestic abuse. This would further guarantee compliance with the Istanbul Convention clarifying that children may be victims of domestic abuse rather than mere witnesses. The recommendation will also be considered in the definition of harm in the Children’s Act. We eagerly welcome these recommendations and hope that the government will translate this into legislation.
Theresa May has committed to delivering the domestic abuse bill before she leaves office. This is promising news for survivors of domestic abuse and for those who have been campaigning this year to improve legislation. The Bill is expected to be introduced to the Commons on the 16 July.
Read the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill here.
MARCH 2019 UPDATE: UK SAYS NO MORE gives evidence to the Pre-legislative committee on the draft domestic bill
UK SAYS NO MORE were asked to give evidence in Parliament in front of the Joint Committee on Domestic Abuse. Lyndsey Dearlove, the Head of UK SAYS NO MORE, reiterated our calls to action on what we want to see included on the Domestic Abuse Bill. You can watch the committee meeting here.
Our calls to action asks to include special measures for children who have experienced domestic abuse which involves:
– Child survivors are given special waiting list status (protected status) for all NHS services including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Support (CAMHS)
– Children in refuges and those that have had to move due to domestic abuse have priority access to school places, with a duty on local authorities to respond to a change of school request from refuges within 20 days.
The Joint Committee asked specifically whether we are surprised that children remain outside of the drafted legislation. The answer is we are surprised but will remain steadfast and focused on campaigning for their inclusion within the bill.
NOVEMBER 2018 UPDATE: UK SAYS NO MORE Recommendation Included In Home Affairs Committee Domestic Abuse Report – Statement
In May, our Charter on Prevention called for MPs and parliamentarians to ensure the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill has a stronger focus on prevention. This includes better mental health support for children who have experienced domestic abuse in order to break the cycle, the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner ensuring education and awareness of domestic abuse is present in schools and beyond, and for all employers to acknowledge that ending domestic abuse is everyone’s business. You can read the full Charter on Prevention here.
We’re pleased to see that part of the new Home Affairs Committee report on domestic abuse takes our recommendation on board, focusing specifically on the impact of domestic abuse on children. Our response asked for children who have experienced domestic abuse to receive protected status on NHS waiting lists, meaning that children who have had to move home or change schools for safety reasons will not have their opportunity to receive prompt medical care removed. It’s positive to see that this is being considered.
In addition, it’s positive to see a change in language when it comes to children and domestic abuse. Currently, language used states that children ‘witness’ domestic abuse in the home, but this implies a detachment from the situation. Studies have consistently found that around 65-77% of households where women are subject to domestic abuse, children are also physically maltreated. And even still, if children aren’t abused themselves, the psychological impact of what they have been exposed to is profound and has a lasting, detrimental effect. We’re careful to always use the term ‘experience’ when talking about children and domestic abuse, as this is the hard-hitting reality. It’s good to see that the Home Affairs Committee has followed our use of language and recommendation to escalate the focus of domestic abuse and children, with the report also now using the term ‘experience’.
With the forthcoming domestic abuse bill on the horizon, we hope to see more of our asks included, so we can stop domestic abuse before it starts.
Read the full Home Affairs Committee report here.
To culminate this engagement, we held a rally and call to action event at the Houses of Parliament during UK SAYS NO MORE Week, on Wednesday 23 May. MPs gathered in parliament during UK SAYS NO MORE Week to show their support for the campaign and rally action for a clearer focus on prevention in the Domestic Abuse Bill.
At the rally, attendees heard from the Victim’s Comissioner Baroness Newlove and Carolyn Harris MP, alongside Marzana and Natasha, two survivors of abuse who are speaking about their own experiences in order to help raise awareness and put a focus on these issues.
If I knew of the support and guidance that was available while I was suffering in silence, I most probably would have found the courage to leave my abuse partner a lot sooner than I did. Such organisations need as much exposure as possible as ultimately the only thing that can help a victim is to know that they are not alone and nor will the be demonised for speaking up.
– Marzana Rahman, survivor and activist
Why are we doing this?
The British Crime Survey has found that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime (ONS 2017). Domestic abuse accounts for 8% of all recorded crime within the United Kingdom. 950,000 children across the UK are affected by domestic abuse, either directly as victims of violence, or indirectly in terms of witnessing violence (BCS, 2009).
We welcome the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill and see this as an amazing opportunity to come together and say NO MORE to domestic abuse and sexual violence – we can do more if we work together. Working with MPs will help ensure that this movement has a long lasting impact on the overall prevention message and strategy.
The call comes as new data from Hestia, the largest provider of domestic abuse refuges in London, reveals that more than half (55%) of Brits who witness domestic abuse as a child will go on to be victims of domestic abuse in their adult life. The polling by Opinium highlights the stark need for more action to break the cycle of abuse.
Over a third of MPs (35%) report being made aware of a constituent having experienced domestic abuse within the last month, and a further one in five report having been made aware of this in the last week (20%) or 3 months (21%).
In addition to signing our Charter on Prevention, we are asking MPs to download the Bright Sky app, which they can use with constituents to provide support to anyone experiencing domestic abuse. We are also inviting champions to sign up to domestic abuse and sexual violence awareness training, alongside visiting a domestic abuse refuge.
From research carried out by Opinium (2018), it’s clear that MPs come into contact with domestic abuse in their professional and personal lives on a regular basis.
3 in 4 MPs have dealt with a case of domestic abuse in the past 3 months.
1 in 4 have dealt with a case of domestic abuse in the last week.
Carolyn Harris MP for Swansea East and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities said: “Domestic abuse has become a silent national health epidemic. It destroys people’s lives and children’s futures. I welcome the Domestic Abuse Bill but the Government can and must go further. I applaud the work of Hestia in taking forward UK SAYS NO MORE week to highlight the extent of domestic and sexual violence in this country. I stand with them and over 100 others in Parliament in calling on the Government to adopt this Charter for Prevention and collectively we are saying “No More”.
Lyndsey Dearlove, Head of UK SAYS NO MORE at Hestia said: “1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be a victim of domestic abuse or sexual violence in their lifetime. We can only end this by turning up the volume on the conversation and recognising that each of us has a role to play. We hope the support shown today from across the political spectrum will result in long-term measures that will bring an end to domestic abuse.”
Our written evidence for the Domestic Abuse Inquiry
You can read UK SAYS MORE’s written response to the Home Affairs Domestic Abuse Inquiry by clicking here.
If you want to become a MP Champion of UK SAYS NO MORE, or want more information about the campaign, please get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.