Domestic abuse is an area fraught with misconceptions. For many people, what they understand by the term is physical violence – the classic pattern of abuse that leads to a woman seeking shelter. The severity of this problem shouldn’t be minimised – each week, two women in England and Wales are killed by a current or former partner, along with 30 men a year.
However, there are many other forms that domestic abuse can take, some of them quite insidious. As Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, explains, it can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial, technological or sexual in nature.
“There are still so many myths surrounding domestic abuse,” she says. “People often think that it only happens in poor families on council estates, but the truth is that domestic violence affects women of all ages, classes and backgrounds.”
Although Refuge focuses its efforts on women and girls, the problem can affect men too. In fact, one in four women and one in six men will suffer domestic abuse over the course of their lifetime.
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