R shares her story of #ListeningFromHome
Recently I made a 999 call. I wasn’t sure if I doing the right thing – what if it was a just a bad argument? Surely they’d stop soon. Your instinct is to not interfere, to not get involved. Then, as it continued, what if I made it even worse for her by calling?
But the more I listened to the sounds coming from my neighbours’ flat, the more I realised this wasn’t just a bad argument. It wasn’t a normal argument. There was an aggression in his voice that scared me, spitting at her through gritted teeth like he was in front of her face, and there was fear in hers, she was crying and begging, apologising over and over.
I realised I had to call the police.
When I heard it get physical, I started shaking and couldn’t stop, it was a horrible thing to listen to. I was on the phone to the 999 operator, describing what I was hearing. Someone had tried to open a door, the door was slammed, they were thrown against it, the thud and the walls echoed, rubber trainers squeaked on the floor, and the woman’s cry of pain was muffled – it sounded like she’d been hit, and then dragged.
When the police spoke to me afterwards, and I asked if she was okay – they couldn’t tell me much, but they said something that haunted me, made it real, made me realise I’d done the right thing.
“When we entered the property, it was clear that there had been a physical assault. An arrest needed to be made. But she’s going to be fine.”
There’s something about the nature of domestic abuse that makes people not want to report it – it’s a crime, yes, it’s bad, yes – but it’s like you’re conditioned to believe that what goes on behind closed doors is not your business.
I wanted to share my experience in the hope that it encourages you to listen and look out for each other in this strange time, and not to doubt your instincts – if something doesn’t sound right, don’t let your fear of ‘interfering’ or ‘causing a fuss’ or ‘making it worse’ stop you from making what might be a very important call.
I had to make myself think about the possibility of a time no one hears it, no one reports it, and the situation turns fatal. Think about if it was you, or your family, or friend that this was happening to – the ‘what if’, the uncertainty of their safety, that should make you call.
R’s Story – Hearing sounds of domestic violence coming from a neighbour’s home, and making the decision to call 999 – which ended with an arrest being made.
We wanted to share this experience to encourage you to listen and look out for each other, and not to doubt your instincts.
During lockdown, domestic abuse rates have doubled.
On average in the UK, two women are murdered every week by their current or former partner.
1 in 4 women, and 1 in 6 men will suffer a form of domestic abuse in their lifetime.
Even if you’re not sure of what you’re hearing, or you’re worried about interfering – think of the possibility that there might be a time no-one hears it, and the situation turns fatal. It is better to be safe than sorry.
If something doesn’t sound right, don’t let your fear stop you from making what might be a very important call.
The Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline (England): 0808 2000 247
24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Abuse Helpline (Northern Ireland): 0808 802 1414
Scotland’s 24hr Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: 0800 027 1234
Live Fear Free 24 hour helpline (Wales): 0808 8010 800
Respect, Men’s Advice Line, open Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:00: 0808 801 0327
ManKind Initiative Helpline, open Monday to Friday 10:00 to 16:00: 01823 334244
Galop’s LGBT+ Helpline, open Monday, Tuesday and Friday 10:00 to 17:00, Wednesday and Thursday 10:00 to 20:00: 0800 999 5428
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, and it is safe to do so, download the free mobile phone app Bright Sky for support and information.
Video directed by Rona Bradley / @rona________
Cinematography by Adam Singodia / @adamsingodia
Sound Design by Ben Goodall / @bmjee_
(Made remotely within social distancing guidelines)