By Nevres Kemal
‘Sexual exploitation includes rape, prostitution, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting. Adults and children can be sexually exploited.’
Click here to view the statutory definition of domestic abuse.
October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month – a time when organisations and campaigners work together to raise awareness of the impact of domestic violence and signpost survivors to help and support.
But it’s important to understand that not all forms of domestic abuse involve physical violence. Emotional, economic and sexual abuse are all forms of abuse and, just because there may be no visible scars, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken just as seriously.
In fact, the Serious Crime Act 2015 makes coercive or controlling behaviour punishable by up to five years in prison – so serious is the impact it can have on victims.
So how do you know if you’ve being abused? What are the signs?
According to the charity Relate, emotional abuse can come in many forms. It might involve you being made to feel intimidated or threatened – so even if you haven’t experienced physical violence, you might be scared of what could happen if you were to try to leave your partner. You might be constantly criticised, undermined and made to feel guilty. Emotional abuse can also involve gaslighting – whereby your version of events is disputed to such a degree that you start to doubt your own mind. All of these actions, when sustained by a partner or family member, can have a serious impact on your mental health and independence, causing serious harm to your wellbeing.
Economic abuse is a form of coercive control that can manifest in many different ways but that, ultimately, sees you lose your financial independence. It may involve having your money intercepted by a controlling partner, friend or family member. It might happen slowly over a period of time, until you realise that you no longer have access to your own money or bank account, for example. There is a charity that specialises in supporting people who have fallen victim to economic abuse – Surviving Economic Abuse, so if you believe this is happening to you, it is worth taking a look at their website to find dedicated resources. The charity recognises that economic abuse rarely happens in isolation, and may coincide with other forms of abuse, whether that be physical, emotional or sexual, for example.
An article in Psychology Today defines sexual abuse as any form of sexual activity that occurs without consent. This might include unwanted touching, forced oral sex and rape, among other sexual acts. Sexual harassment, meanwhile, is any unwelcome behaviour that embarrasses, humiliates or intimidates an individual and this can be physical, verbal and non verbal – such as staring or sexual gestures. Nobody should have to endure any form of sexual abuse or harassment – and both are forms of criminal activity that can be reported.
At RMVF, we can help anybody who is experiencing domestic abuse by securing safe and supported housing, and providing specialist advice guidance, support and advocacy. Pick up the phone and call or 0737 63 48 663 to speak to us confidentially today.
If you believe you are in immediate danger, you should always call 999 first to get emergency help as soon as possible.
*Information will be coming soon regarding provision and referrals*
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