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Police think domestic violence is a “lifestyle choice”, says report

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The investigation into children involved in domestic violence cases has revealed police attitudes towards victims of abuse

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By Emily Baker on

An Ofsted report published yesterday has revealed domestic violence victims are failed by authorities because they see the issue as a “lifestyle choice”. The investigation’s main aim is to discuss how support agencies and law enforcers respond to children involved in domestic violence cases but police reports included in the paper show the authorities referring to survivors learning to “make better relationship choices”.

The “Prevent, protect and repair” report concluded that more emphasis must be put on the perpetrators of the abuse, rather than the victims and children involved. Writers concluded that authorities are too often asking, “why doesn’t she leave?” while the question they should be asking is, “why doesn’t he stop?”

Writers of the report told The Telegraph, “We found instances of language being used that incorrectly held victims responsible for the risk of domestic abuse.” The report, which looked at domestic violence cases across Bradford, Hampshire, Hounslow, Lincolnshire, Salford and Wiltshire, included many forms of domestic violence – physical, emotional, coercive control, psychological, financial – in its investigations.

The focus should be on early intervention of violent perpetrators, rather than waiting for violence to occur

Part of the report is made up of findings from focus groups with survivors of domestic violence. One excerpt from a survivor put into context how the police had more concern for her attacker than her. “I called the police on him multiple times and they just kind of patted him on the back and said “calm down son,” she told researchers, “and I’m like, “he’s just thrown me down the goddamn stairs”.”

The report advises police and other relevant authorities that domestic violence patterns often start in small, more easily intervenable ways. The focus should be on early intervention of violent perpetrators, rather than waiting for violence to occur.

The national director for social care at Ofsted, Eleanor Schooling, wants authorities to view cases with a long-term perspective, saying, “It can be all too easy for police, health professionals and social workers to focus on short-term responses to incidents. Agencies can address these complex challenges, but due to the endemic nature of domestic abuse they cannot do it alone. A widespread public service message is needed to shift behaviour on a wide scale.”

@emilyrbakes

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