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Photo: Woman's Trust

Law change leads to rise in reported cases of domestic abuse in south west London

By Georgia Simcox
January 15 2020, 12.08

Domestic abuse increased by more than 12% in south west London over the period of a year. 

According to data published by the Metropolitan Police, reported cases of domestic abuse by men and women increased by 12.4% between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. 

It has increased by 11.7% across the capital in the same period.

Last year, local authorities were legally required to deliver accommodation-based services to survivors of domestic abuse. 

Woman’s Trust chair Sally Field said: “More publicity around domestic abuse actually leads to more reporting. 

“It might have been some publicity around government plans but equally storylines in soaps.” 

A few years ago, there was a change to the law to include coercion and control. 

In Kingston upon Thames and Sutton, reported cases have increased by 32.8% and 24.2% respectively. 

Ms Field added: “I think [the change] has made a lot of women understand that they are actually victims because there’s no actual violence but there is a very strong coercion and control.” 

She advised seeking help from someone completely non-judgemental “because it’s very difficult for women to disclose this without feeling completely ashamed and as if it’s their fault.” 

She explained domestic abuse is the single biggest cause of depression in women and that 20% of those who have suffered it have attempted suicide while 60% have PTSD. 

Ms Field said: “There’s a lot of short-term and immediate, reactive and practical things that can be provided for the victim.”

She added: “The mental health impacts are really very great and not particularly well understood. 

“There’s a lot of help that people think about giving which is about the immediate safety and that kind of practical help but it’s really important that these long-term mental health effects are really tackled. 

“Some women come to us and it’s been thirty years and they’ve just managed to get the courage up to seek help and it has affected their lives for decades and it can lead to difficulties in relationships with the children, difficulties in relationships with other future potential partners.” 

Woman’s Trust provide 18 weeks of free one-to-one counselling to survivors. 

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