Domestic violence – a hidden crime
By its nature domestic violence is largely hidden. It occurs in private and is likely to be concealed by those who are subjected to it as well as those who perpetrate it. The wide range of services, which are needed to combat domestic violence, have to be planned and implemented on a phased basis. Violence in a close adult relationship is not a once off occurrence – it is a process. Responses, therefore cannot be once off, but must be a continuous process of support and assistance, tailored to the needs of the woman at all times.
To eliminate the abuse and bring about change, a coordinated community response is required. Each part of our community has a role to play – refuges and women’s support services, women’s groups, mental health services, accident and emergency services, the medical profession, social workers, local authorities, educators, clergy, the media as well as the civil and criminal justice system.
The most effective response will be provided where there are systems in place to ensure that all these agencies work together and there is a proper coordination of services, communication and sharing of information. Different agencies need to link up with other bodies serving the same need and overcome any existing obstacles that prevents them working together. In particular, we must develop an understanding of each other’s ethos and chain of accountability and work towards the shared objective of providing a coherent and efficient service in protection and supporting women and their children.