LIFESTYLE

One In Three People Do Not Know Domestic Abuse Can Happen After A Relationship Has Ended

02/07/2015 13:14 BST | Updated 07/07/2015 09:59 BST

You do not have to be in a relationship with a physically, emotionally or financially abusive person to be a victim of domestic abuse.

But new figures from Citizens Advice reveal that one in three people do not know that domestic abuse can happen between former partners.

The research also shows victims can be at greater risk of being harmed after leaving an abusive relationship, but many people are unaware that domestic abuse can continue when victims are no longer living with the perpetrator.

Our lack of knowledge may mean we're missing signs that suggest a friend or family member needs help.

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The survey of over 2,000 British adults found that just one in five (22%) think it is always easy to tell what counts as domestic abuse.

A total of 13% believe domestic abuse can only be between two people in a relationship who live together, not among those who are casually dating.

Abuse that occurs after a relationship has ended often includes a financial or psychological element, but the report revealed that our knowledge in this area is seriously lacking.

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, director of policy at Women’s Aid Hilary Fisher said it is "deeply concerning that domestic abuse is not always recognised for what it is".

"It means that women are less likely to receive the support they need to move past their abuse. We need a huge cultural change around understanding what domestic violence is," she added.

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Last year, the Citizens Advice report Controlling Money, Controlling Lives revealed that victims of financial abuse had access to their bank accounts restricted, were stolen from and had their property destroyed.

Some victims sought help after being left with huge debts when they were forced to take out loans for their abuser. The financial abuse was in some cases accompanied by intimidation, physical violence and repeated death threats.

An analysis of almost 200 cases of financial abuse brought to local Citizens Advice between January and June last year revealed that nine in 10 victims were women.

However, the new research showed that people are more than twice as likely to know that domestic abuse can include a psychological element than a financial one.

Only two in five (39%) are aware of the financial side of abuse compared to four in five (86%) who are aware of the psychological side.

On top of that, two in five people (39%) are not aware making a partner account for all their spending can constitute domestic abuse.

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“The suffering of domestic abuse victims is going undetected. Many people do not realise abuse can occur after a relationship has ended and be financial or psychological, as well as physical," Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said in a statement.

“Without the knowledge and understanding of the extent of abuse it is difficult for family and friends to make sure people get the help they need.

“New measures from the Government to make coercive control illegal will ensure those found guilty of these crimes are punished. For this to truly help victims the public and authorities need support to identify abuse."

Citizens Advice is currently developing new guidance that will aim to better equip everyone, from friends and family through to professionals, to identify all forms of abuse and take the right steps to help victims get the support they need.

For support on domestic violence here in the UK, you can contact Women’s Aid - support for abused women and children – or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. Contact Broken Rainbow - the LGBT domestic violence charity - on 0845 2 60 55 60. Or contact Men’s Advice Line - advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse - on 0808 801 0327.

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