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Episode 10: Signs And Symptoms Of Domestic Violence

Part Seven: Forms of Abuse – Human Trafficking, Forced Marriages & Stalking

 

What is Human Trafficking?

Definition: Human trafficking is the crime of moving people illegally, often to a different country, so they can be forced to have sex for money, or to work for little or no money. (Macmillan Dictionary)

As the definition suggests, trafficking involves trading human beings, and exploiting them for material gain and profit, just as if they were products or goods! These people are taken advantage of by traffickers who consider them to be weak and vulnerable. The abusers use their power to oppress, enslave, and exploit those who cannot defend, protect or stand up and fight for themselves.

This can include children who have been groomed for the purpose, as well as vulnerable adults. It is a complete setup and often involves kidnapping, and everything that violates the free will of a human being, including forcing them to take drugs! It is characteristic of the crime of trafficking to be about personal gratification of the abuser. Sexual abuse is usually therefore involved, especially when the victims involved are not in a position to defend themselves, fight back or put an end to what is happening to them!

Sometimes trafficking is about making money through child labour. The stronger abuse their victims, by using their ‘power and control,’ to dominate and prey on the vulnerable. The people who are being trafficked are forced to work in sweatshops sewing clothes, or in catering, cooking food from sunrise to sundown. They are helpless victims and have no choice but to do as they are told or face the devastating consequences!

 
Signs of Human Trafficking

Someone who has been involved in human trafficking would no doubt display some, or all of the following characteristics:

Many of them are withdrawn and fearful around other people. Considering the terrible things, they have no doubt experienced, this is totally understandable. It is extremely difficult for them to be able to trust others easily. Every time they have chosen to trust someone in the past, they have been used, abused and let down. It is therefore no surprise that they often conclude that trust is too high a price to pay! Subsequently, they become insecure as they have never experienced any stability in their lives.

Children who have been victims of trafficking, become severely traumatised by being violently removed from their families often by force. Bearing the circumstances in mind it is highly unlikely that it would have been possible for them, to have had adequate opportunity to get a good and consistent education, or a normal childhood for that matter.

Apart from the obvious things like physical bruises and scars, they will quite possibly also suffer from mental health issues like depression, eating disorders and the tendency to self-harm as well. They may also display inappropriate sexual behaviour towards others. They are often unaccustomed to and unfamiliar with proper boundaries, because of what has been done to them. Sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted, unplanned pregnancies as well as the challenge of abortions, are also issues that the victims of trafficking must often deal and cope with.

Such people may have a classic fear of the dark. They can often turn out to be quite aggressive, towards others as they are forced to do whatever is necessary for self-preservation reasons. The things they have experienced will often have been accompanied by violence, so they learn to be that way too. They can and often do find themselves addicted to drugs, which makes it impossible for them to easily break free from the ones who hold them captive! The setup is strategic on the part of their abusers.

Human Trafficking helpline: 0800 0121700

 
Forced Marriage

Marriage is supposed to be all about the coming together of two compatible people, who are in love and have equally chosen and decided to be together. The achievement of such a union, should be the beginning of a rapturous joy that is difficult to even describe!

Forced marriage is the total opposite as the name suggests. Usually in this scenario, one or both people are forced by family members to embark upon the journey of marriage that neither of them want. It is typical that the unfortunate couple, have no say or choice in the matter. It is however what the family have decided is going to happen and that is the end of it.

A forced marriage is therefore possible, through the sheer force of using and exerting a pressure cooker like state of affairs. Abuse is the vehicle used to violate the will of the couple and remove their freedom of choice.

For help with this issue contact:

Phone: 0800 5999247

Contact: www.karmanirvana.org.uk/

Email: fmu@fco.gov.uk

FCO FORCED MARRIAGE UNIT

Phone: 02070 080151 or 004420 70080151 if calling from abroad.

 

Stalking

This occurs when the victim is forced to endure completely unwanted attention from someone who displays totally obsessive, ‘out of control’ behaviour. It involves the stalker harassing and intimidating the victim at every opportunity. This is usually by disrespecting, all their boundaries and pushing them to the absolute limit.

The stalker often believes they have the right to physically follow them, phone them all the time, and basically go to a lot of trouble to invade their privacy and disrupt their world. This is very much about the stalker exerting control over and exercising power over their victim. They do this by regularly unnerving them, using fear as the vehicle.

Stalking could start simply because someone has mistakenly misinterpreted and misunderstood when a person is being friendly towards them. There is a crossing of wires as suddenly the stalker becomes literally obsessed, bombarding their victim with unwanted texts, phone calls and visits. They also invest a lot of time and effort spying on them! They become pushy and refuse to leave the person alone or show them any kind of respect. Essentially, they refuse to take no for an answer!

The stalker’s aim is to seriously violate their victims by invading their personal space, at every possible opportunity they get, causing major distress, and leaving them feeling threatened and ultimately afraid. The victim feels very uncomfortable whenever the stalker is around, becoming nervous and unable to relax, always looking over their shoulder, finding it impossible to avoid being on edge.

Stalkers also like to destroy their victim’s property. Smashing up their things gives the stalker a sense of power because it is a way of controlling them. Stalking can be part of a domestically violent scenario, and in very serious cases, it can unfortunately even lead to serious harm where the victim is killed.

Molly McLaren ended her relationship with Joshua Stimpson because he was obsessive. Twelve days after they split up, he began to stalk her. She was concerned enough to confront him about it. She also shared this concern with her mother, and a friend.

One day she went to the gym, and he turned up there. Shortly afterwards he apparently left but in fact waited for her outside. Unsuspecting she went and sat in her car. Before she realised what was happening, he forcefully opened her car door, and violently attacked her. He cut her throat and stabbed her 75 times in all. It was obvious that he was determined to kill her. She lost her life as he did. He was charged and given a life sentence with a minimum of 26 years.

NETWORK FOR SURVIVING STALKING

National stalking helpline: 08088 020300

Contact: www.stalkinghelpline.org

Email: advice@stalkinghelpline.org

By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

“Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”