Charity warns media to handle high profile domestic abuse cases sensitively


It is important that anyone who believes they have been in an abusive relationship knows they can speak to someone confidentially.


By Sophie Devonshire, Louise FitzGerald, Jordan O’Brien & Solomon Radley

A major charity has warned that the media must handle high profile domestic abuse cases with extreme sensitivity.

Carla Julien, Director of Operations at Hestia, which has handled over 2,500 cases this year, said often the first way women hear about domestic violence cases is through the press, so it’s vital to avoid justifying cases of abuse.

She said: “It always starts with a little slap, that’s not alright. This is not a joke.”

Emmy Gilmour, the clinical director at their rehabilitation centre in South West London, said: “By the time people enter therapy they are often coming to us in a very fragile state, with very little confidence and self-esteem remaining.”

She said it is important that anyone who believes they have been in an abusive relationship knows they can speak to someone confidentially to explore the idea of accessing support.

“Many people are terrified to take that first step and it’s vital that they are aware that they can go at their own pace when it comes to getting help.  

“Help and support allows people to change patterns of abusive relationships so that they don’t become a life sentence,” she said.

Ms Gilmour also said that alcohol is often a factor in abusive relationships.

“Sufferers of addiction are far more likely to be in emotionally and physically abusive relationships and struggle to maintain healthy relationships with others.  

“We help people to develop positive and respectful relationships with themselves where they learn how to develop self-care and intimacy with others,” she said.

In March 2013 the definition of domestic violence will be widened to include verbal abuse and controlling behaviour, as well as teenage victims.

Nearly one in five murders are as a result of domestic abuse.

Up to one in six men and one in four women are subjected to domestic violence but only one in five instances of abuse will be reported.

Pat Green, Deputy Locality Director for Victim Support London, said victims of abuse can call 0845 450 3936 for emotional support and practical help.

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