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Perth & Kinross Violence Against Women Partnership

FAQs

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  • Can men be victims of domestic abuse?

    Violence and abuse can be experienced by men and perpetrated by women. This is just as unacceptable as violence perpetrated by men against women. Men can also be abused by male partners in same-sex relationships. However, statistically, the overwhelming majority of violence and abuse is perpetrated by men against women.

    PKVAWP works with agencies across the voluntary and statutory sector to address violence against women, with a clear focus on the Scottish Government’s gender-based definition and analysis of violence against women.

    The partnership works with two agencies which deliver services only to women (Perthshire Women's Aid and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (RASAC Perth and Kinross). Our work with all other partners, although focused on women, children and young people, impacts indirectly on services for men.

    The partnership encourages the same standard of service to be offered to men and women who experience any form of abuse.

  • Who does violence against women affect?

    Violence may be experienced by any woman at any time in her life, regardless of her age, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexual orientation, gender history / identity or economic status. There is no typical perpetrator or typical victim.

    Some forms of violence / abuse may particularly affect minority ethnic communities, such as ‘honour-based’ violence and forced marriage. Some aspects may particularly affect disabled women, older women and women with low economic status. For example, a woman with a severe and enduring disability may face additional barriers and vulnerabilities if the perpetrator is also their carer.

  • Why do women stay with or return to abusive partners?

    This is a common question and based on an assumption that women should leave. For many women this is not a useful option.

    There are many reasons why women do not leave abusive partners, for example fear that the abuse will escalate; not wishing to separate children from their father; fear of the unknown. It is also a time of very high risk so it may be safer not to leave.

    Leaving does not mean that the violence will stop.

    Many women leave and then choose to return, for example because of threats to themselves or their children; for financial reasons; because they love their partner and hope he will change.

    Leaving a violent partner because of domestic abuse is a process rather than a one off event.

    Leaving means that a woman must accept that she is not responsible for the abuse and therefore, cannot stop it.

    These issues are complex and women’s lives are complicated. Women need support to keep themselves and their children safe and to make the best decision for themselves, without judgement.

  • Is elder abuse a form of violence against women?

    The partnership works to improve responses to older women who are affected by abuse by a partner/ex-partner. This may include situations where the woman is a carer of a male perpetrator or where the victim's main carer is the male perpetrator. Although other forms of violence / abuse affect older people (for example, abuse by carers), these are not gender-based violence against women and are outwith our remit.

  • Can perpetrators change their behaviour?

    All perpetrators are entitled to an opportunity to understand, address and change their behaviour. Without such opportunities, men are unlikely to take responsibility for the abuse or to change their behaviour substantially.

    Many women and children wish their partner/father to change their behaviour. Alongside support for women and children, work with men is vital in addressing abuse and responding to their families’ needs and wishes. Find out more about good practice in working with perpetrators - The Caledonian System and Respect.

  • Is anger management an appropriate response to domestic abuse?

    Specialist domestic abuse perpetrator programmes - The Caledonian System and Respect are the nationally recommended good practice approach to perpetrators of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is not caused by anger and loss of control, but by complex behaviours which are used to maintain power and control over another.

    Anger management, couples counselling, mediation and so on are not appropriate responses to perpetrators of domestic abuse.

    The good practice response clearly places responsibility with the abuser, acknowledges the significant dangers of bringing together victim and perpetrator, and recognises the unequal relationship between both parties. Counselling and mediation approaches are not appropriate where there is inequality and unequal bargaining power between the people involved. This risks the perpetrator being supported in his view that he is not responsible for his own behaviour.

  • Are voluntary domestic abuse perpetrator programmes an appropriate response to domestic abuse?

    There are arguments for and against voluntary domestic abuse perpetrator programmes. The partnership does not support such schemes if they allow diversion of a perpetrator from the criminal justice process. If there is sufficient evidence to allow criminal justice processes to proceed, prosecuting perpetrators is important both to protect victims and to send a clear message about the unacceptability of such behaviour.

  • What impact does domestic abuse have on children and young people?

    Most children are aware of the abuse of their mother and all children who witness or live with domestic abuse suffer emotionally. Some children may be physically hurt and / or sexually abused as part of the abuse of their mother. This can have significant short and long-term consequences for physical and mental health, educational attainment, relationships with family and friends and more.

    Children and young people are entitled to independent support regardless of whether or not their mother chooses to ask for support in her own right.

    All children who are experiencing domestic abuse are children in need who require support to understand and overcome these experiences. However, not all children in these circumstances need formal child protection measures. The needs and safety of the child should be central to any intervention. However, working with the mother to keep the whole family safe is likely to be the best way to protect the children.

    Any child protection / child in need interventions should recognise the complex dynamics of families where there is domestic abuse. Interventions should support the mother to protect her children without reinforcing perceptions that she is responsible for the abuse or has previously failed to protect her children adequately. Interventions should also recognise the role of the perpetrator as part of the family, and reinforce his responsibility for the abuse and its impact on the children.

  • Do children who experience domestic abuse grow up to be victims / perpetrators of abuse?

    There is a "cycle of violence" theory that children from families where there is abuse are more likely to become victims and / or perpetrators of abuse later in life. This theory is not a helpful concept nor is it supported by evidence. Abuse within the home is just one risk factor amongst many (including having dependent children, pregnancy, financial pressure and ill-health).

    All children and young people deserve to receive high quality and appropriate support to help them to deal with the effects of abuse on their life, not to be treated as tomorrow's victims or perpetrators.

  • What impact does domestic abuse have on the relationship between children and their mother?

    Domestic abuse can have a significant impact on the relationship between a mother and her children reasons including:

    • a mother’s feelings of guilt and shame about "failing" to protect her children
    • torn loyalties between the mother and an abusive father
    • the use of children as part of the abuse
    • children's feelings of guilt about "failing" to protect their mother
    • difficulties dealing with subsequent challenging behaviour presented by children what have experienced domestic abuse

    Many women decide to leave an abusive partner to protect their children.

    Living with and leaving a violent partner is extremely stressful. Women need support to help them maintain their parenting capacity. With the right support, women and their children can re-establish healthy relationships.

  • Should children who have experienced domestic abuse have contact with their father?

    Some children who have been affected by domestic abuse have a positive relationship with their father and wish to maintain contact. Some women wish to encourage and support this contact for their children. In these circumstances, access arrangements should facilitate the child's contact with their father while protecting the ongoing safety of both the child and their mother.

  • How does violence and abuse affect women from minority ethnic communities?

    There are many differences across different cultures, including Scottish culture. In all cultures, perpetrators attempt to justify or explain their behaviour. This may include citing religious writings or beliefs or cultural practices. These often centre on an apparent acceptance of abusive behaviour by men or on women's lack of rights to challenge such abuse. There is no justification for abusive behaviour. PKVAWP supports international human's rights legislation which states that violence against women is a breach of women's human rights.

  • How does violence and abuse affect women in same sex relationships?

    Domestic abuse occurs within same sex relationships. The experiences of homosexual people experiencing domestic are often compounded by issues, such as homophobia, which may be a barrier to seeking help. As part of the abuse, the abusive partner may threaten to ‘out’ the partner or have the children taken away.

    Services responding to a person experiencing domestic abuse within a same sex relationship should offer the same level and quality of support as they would to a person experiencing the same issues within a heterosexual relationship.

  • What causes domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women?

    There are many factors which people claim cause, or are reasons for, violence / abuse including:

    • women provoke violence
    • mental illness
    • substance misuse - by either the victim or perpetrator
    • stress
    • loss of control
    • abusive partner alleging the non-abusive partner is not a ‘good’ parent

    However, accepting any of these factors as a cause, reason or excuse for violence / abuse, absolves the perpetrator and risks blaming the victim.

    It can be easier for people to blame the factors listed above rather than to accept that the perpetrator has chosen to be violent / abusive and is responsible for his behaviour.

    PKVAWP supports the view that violence / abuse is a demonstration of power and control. This is a demonstration of power and control at the individual level (i.e. the perpetrator demonstrating control over the victim), but also a demonstration of power and control at a much wider societal level (i.e. the structural inequality in society that affords women a lesser status than men). The demonstration of power and control at the societal level supports and underpins its demonstration at the individual level. There is never any justification for using violence, unless your life is in danger. No one deserves to be abused and victims are never responsible for the violence /abuse they experience.

  • Do women choose to become involved in prostitution?

    Women enter prostitution through lack of choice. Most women working in prostitution do so because they are poor, homeless, have a substance misuse issue or have previously been a victim of violence. Although elements of their actions (i.e. soliciting) are criminal under current Scots law, PKVAWP believes that, rather than criminal prosecution, women require high quality support to reduce harm to themselves and to move towards leaving prostitution.

    A few women may actively choose to become involved in prostitution, normally working within escort agencies. However, their experiences do not reflect those of the vast majority of women involved in prostitution. Most women work on the streets or in brothels. They are vulnerable to and lack protection from violence and other risks such as sexually transmitted diseases, rape and sexual assault and substance misuse.

    The common perception that women choose to become involved in prostitution is harmful to the vast majority of women who experience prostitution as exploitative and dangerous.

  • What role do men have in prostitution?

    Men buying sex from women involved in prostitution choose to do so. Without demand from men, women working in prostitution would not be exposed to this exploitative and harmful activity. Interventions should focus on reducing demand from men whilst also supporting women to reduce harm to themselves and to move towards leaving prostitution.

  • Would legalising prostitution be helpful?

    Prostitution is harmful, not only to the individual women involved, but also women and society as a whole. This harm will not be removed or lessened by legalising prostitution. Indeed the risks would become acceptable. The many harmful aspects of prostitution, the behaviour of men who buy sex, brothel keepers and traffickers are unlikely to be substantially affected simply by legalising prostitution.

  • Can rape happen within the context of a relationship?

    Rape and sexual assault are unacceptable in any circumstance. They are crimes whether they occur between strangers or within a relationship. All women have the right to say no to sex, whether or not they have previously had consensual sex or a relationship with the perpetrator.

  • What is the difference between forced marriage and arranged marriage?

    Marriage should only be entered into through the full and free consent of both parties. If a woman refuses consent or there is physical or emotional pressure placed on her to marry, the marriage has been forced and is a form of violence against women.

    Arranged marriages, where the woman gives free and full consent to arrangements made by her family, are an important part of many cultures which can occur without harm to the woman involved.

  • Are pornography and lap dancing harmful to women?

    Pornography and lap dancing (along with prostitution) are forms of commercial sexual exploitation which are harmful to the women involved. There are clear links between pornography, lap dancing and on/off street prostitution. All forms of commercial sexual exploitation affect the physical and mental wellbeing of women involved and perpetuate negative sexualised perceptions of all women.

  • Are there links between human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women?

    Overwhelmingly, women and children are the victims of trafficking, with most trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Demand for prostitution (and other forms of sexual exploitation) encourages a supply of trafficked women (both from within and out with the UK).

    Trafficking is a form of violence against women and a breach of women's human rights.

  • Where can I get help?

    There are many local agencies which can help you. Some of these agencies are specialist services which deal with the different forms of violence against women. There are services to help all victims, including men and transgender people. Find out more about local service.

  • What will the police do if I report the abuse / violence?

    The police will carry out a full investigation about the incident that you have reported. They will want to talk with you and anyone else who might have witnessed, or have information about, the incident. The police will also want to talk to the person who has been accused of perpetrating the abuse / violence. They will record all of the evidence and information that they find.

    When the police respond to an incident, they will ask you if any children or young people are part of the family. If they are, the police officer will complete a form about what has happened. If there is enough concern about the child or young person, the information will be given to a group of professionals (drawn from the police, health, social work, education, housing and the voluntary sector) to consider. The aim of this group is to make sure children and young people are safe and to consider whether there are any supports that might help the child, young person, parent or carer. If the group considers your child, then you might receive a letter telling you about what it has decided.  

    Whether or not any further action can be taken against the perpetrator depends on the evidence available. If there is enough evidence, the police can report the incident to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). COPFS will look at all the evidence and decide whether or not the perpetrator should be prosecuted.

    The police will also contact you to offer you further information and support. This will normally be special officers called Domestic Abuse Liaison Officers or Sexual Offences Liaison Officers. These officers can also help you to contact local support services.

  • What will Social Work Services do if I report the abuse / violence?

    Social Work Services want to work with you to make sure that any child or young person in your family is safe. Their priority is the protection of children and young people.

    Social Work Services aim is to offer you and your family support to help you to cope with the violence / abuse that you are experiencing. They know that lots of children and young people are in households where violence / abuse occur and want to prevent harm. They will consider all the information they have about you and your family and consider all of the options available (which may include child protection procedures if there is significant risk to your children). They might also decide to pass the information on to a group of professionals to help decide what to do next.

  • How can I help to stop violence against women?

    There are lots of things that you can do to help to stop violence against women. You can:

    • Find out more about the issues by researching local and national information and resources.
    • Sign up to national campaigns run by organisations such as Scottish Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland or White Ribbon Scotland.
    • Plan an event about violence against women for the 16 Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
    • Volunteer with local agencies which are working to support women, children and young people affected by violence against women.
    • Challenge other people's attitudes towards violence against women.
    • Be alert and pass on the information you have to anyone who is affected by violence against women.

     

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