Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Essex police & the ‘dare to share’ policy

Essex Police have come under intense scrutiny regarding the way it deals with Domestic Violence and Domestic Abuse (DVA) - you can read The Guardian editoral about it here.

Last year, a new government inititative was set up to enable women to request information about a new, or prospective partner in relation to Domestic and Sexual Violence.  This is known as Clare's Law and was set up in response to the murder of Clare Wood, in 2011.

Essex Police have suggested that they may take a 'dare to share' approach in relation to Domestic Violence & Abuse, where they will warn women about dangerous men, in order to help 'protect' them.

We are concerned that this initiative may lead to more victim blaming.  We are aware that women are already held responsible for abuses perpetrated against them (our campaign wouldn't be necessary if they weren't); and that the police and other professional organisations do not have a good enough understanding of the root causes of domestic and sexual abuse - namely, power and control.

If, for example, a woman is warned about the abusive nature of her current or prospective partner, but she doesn't leave - does she become culpable in the eyes of the police?

Professional agencies already ask 'why doesn't she just leave?' when discussing DVA.  How would this new initiative by Essex Police prevent that? Answer - it wouldn't. In our opinion, it makes it more likely that the culpability would remain with the survivor.

We share the view of Refuge CEO, Sandra Horley. "Police failure is not confined to one force.  It is widespread across the country.  We have exhausted all options - a public inquiry is the only way to go."

A public inquiry would examine how all professional organisations respond to DVA.  It would highlight the fact that 2 women are killed every week by men, often their current or former partner.

Let us show that women and children matter.  Let us lay the blame with the perpetrators, not with the women and children.  Let us take professional agencies to task when they fail, and not suffer yet another report where the outcome is 'we should have done better'.  Let us have a national strategy so that the 'should have' becomes a 'will do'.

Interested to hear your comments about this issue - especially from survivors, or those who can identify agencies with offering 'best practice'.

You can view the HMIC Report into the handling of Domestic Abuse cases by Essex Police here. (PDF)

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