That’s a question I hear many times and I often quote comparisons with the massive decline in smoking and the overwhelming take-up of wearing seatbelts. It seems to me they offer the best place to start taking on board what’s necessary.
The only way to get onto the road to eradicating domestic abuse is firstly to make it socially unacceptable. But how do you achieve that?
I see there are four main requirements that need to be in place:
1. Educating children
3. Empowering victims
4. Educating (reforming) abusers
Each of these is, by itself, a massive task to embark on and each is worthy of much discussion. Moreover, all of them require not only big financial commitments but also patience, time and committed individuals to champion long-term projects.
Educating the children may take a generation or two; legislation, as we have seen with the DA Bill, will take years to become fully effective; empowering victims will require trust and specific resources; and to educate/reform abusers will need substantial investment to create programmes of help for them – as with any other type of addict.
All this needs a government with true foresight – in other words, a horizon set well beyond the next election. That is where we come to the real stumbling block.
Making domestic abuse socially unacceptable is the only way to eradicate it. Simply saying ‘domestic abuse must stop’ is not good enough: we need to create a sea-change in society’s attitude.
The domestic abuse support sector has recently received more funding than ever before to support victims: this must continue but the only way we are going to bring about eradication is by sustained investment in a four-pronged attack.
I have worked in this sector for nearly 13 years and I have met many passionate and committed individuals. What we need now is someone with the skills, vision – and clout – to develop the four fundamental requirements which will make domestic abuse socially unacceptable.
Mark Groves, Chief Executive