#SpotlightOn Domestic Abuse – 2021 Recap

16 December 2021

#SpotlightOn domestic abuse 2021 campaign

At the start of 2021 we launched an online campaign to raise awareness of the many different forms domestic abuse can take. This campaign, named #SpotlightOn, focussed on a different form of abuse each month in order to inform and educate our audience, including women currently experiencing abuse. By utilising our online platforms to raise this awareness, we hope that women might recognise some of the signs of the various forms of abuse and reach out to us for support. We also aimed to raise awareness among the general public, many of whom might still typically see domestic abuse as physical violence and nothing more.

As the year draws to a close, we want to use our online platforms again to summarise the types of abuse this campaign looked at this year and to encourage any woman experiencing them to seek support. So, without further ado, here’s our #SpotlightOn 2021 campaign wrapped…

January – financial abuse

We started off the year by focussing on financial abuse, which can include:

  • Using credit or debit cards without permission
  • Taking out contracts in their partner’s name without permission
  • Reckless gambling using funds from shared accounts
  • Enforcing ‘allowances’ without their partner’s input
  • Stopping their partner from working or sabotaging their job

Click through the slides on our Instagram page below to find out more about financial abuse.

February – sexual abuse

The first week of February saw Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week take place, and so we decided to shine our light on sexual abuse in an intimate partner context to mark this week, and continued to share information to raise awareness throughout the month.

We wanted to raise awareness of the fact that sexual abuse, including rape, can be and is a form of domestic abuse when perpetrated by an intimate partner.

The definition of sexual abuse is:

“Any unwanted sexual acts or sexual activities; any behaviour of a sexual nature which takes place without consent; any behaviour of a sexual nature that causes the victim distress. It can be physical, psychological or take place digitally/online.”

Watch our clip on Twitter below to find out more about sexual abuse. Read more about the impact of sexual abuse on women in the UK.

March – physical abuse

In March, we put our spotlight on physical abuse – perhaps the most visible and well-known form of domestic abuse.

Physical abuse is often experienced alongside other forms of abuse, such as emotional abuse and coercive control.

Some examples of physical abuse include:

  • Kicking
  • Punching
  • Biting
  • Burning e.g. with a lighter, matches or an iron
  • Pinching
  • Slapping
  • Scratching
  • Choking
  • Use of weapons e.g. stabbing
  • Exposure to extreme heat or cold

Read more about the signs of physical abuse in a relationship.

April – stalking

April’s focus was on stalking to mark National Stalking Awareness Week which ran from 19th – 23rd April.

Stalking within the context of domestic abuse is complex, but is something we see frequently with women we support in our refuges and outreach services.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust defines stalking as:

“A pattern of repeated, unwanted behaviour that causes you to feel distressed or scared. It includes fixated & obsessive behaviour which is persistent & intrusive. This behaviour causes fear of violence or causes alarm & distress.”

Read more about stalking and harassment, in particular cyberstalking.

May – mental health & abuse

May saw us turn our attention to mental health and domestic abuse, as the two are often linked and have a complex relationship.

Here’s some facts about domestic abuse and mental health:

  • Experiencing domestic abuse (as a child or adult) can lead to the development of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety
  • It can also be the cause of or contributor to the development of self-harming, suicidal tendencies & attempts, eating disorders and substance misuse
  • Lastly, mental health disorder diagnoses can be used by perpetrators against women to abuse them further, which can make existing mental health challenges worsen

Read more about mental health and domestic abuse, in particular Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

June – emotional abuse

In June, our #SpotlightOn campaign was focussed on emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can be defined as:

“When a perpetrator uses emotions to control and manipulate their victim. Their aim is to erode the victim’s self-esteem and wear down their self-confidence.”

It is one of the hardest forms of abuse to spot as it can be so subtle – even the victim may not recognise what’s happening to them as abuse.

Examples of emotional abuse can include:

  • Demanding you spend all of your time together
  • Undermining or being dismissive of you
  • Gaslighting, accusing you of making things up or lying to them
  • Starting arguments for the sake of it
  • Having frequent emotional outbursts & erratic behaviour
  • Humiliating you – publicly or privately
  • Constantly trying to prove you wrong or calling you stupid
  • Controlling who you see and when

Read more about emotional abuse

July – verbal abuse

Verbal abuse is often dismissed, however it can be a very damaging form of abuse. Perpetrators will often use their words and voices to subject victims to other forms of abuse, including emotional abuse and coercive control.

Verbal abuse can include:

  • Insulting and belittling e.g. calling you ugly or stupid in private or in front of people
  • Gaslighting – accusing you of making things up or telling you they never happened and that you’re “crazy”
  • Screaming, shouting and swearing
  • Name calling
  • Making verbal threats
  • Humiliating or degrading you with words

Read more about verbal abuse and coercive control tactics in relationships.

August – coercive control

Coercive control “Is an intentional pattern of behaviour which can include threats, excessive regulation, intimidation, humiliation and enforced isolation. It is designed to punish, dominate, exploit, exhaust, create fear, confusion and increase dependency. Over time it can lead to a complete loss of self.”

Victims of coercive control might…

  • Have constant feelings of fear and anxiety
  • Feel trapped and alone
  • Suffer physical injuries including pregnancy complications
  • Experience mental health & emotional wellbeing challenges
  • Lose their self-esteem
  • Lose their sense of self and identity
  • Lose their job and/or any income
  • Have difficulty trusting anyone
  • Doubt their parenting ability

Read more about what coercive control is.

September – digital abuse

September’s focus was on digital abuse, also referred to as tech or online abuse. This form of abuse has increased in recent years, and has been accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the context of intimate partner relationships, digital abuse “Is the use of technology, such as texting, other messaging, and social networking to harass, stalk, manipulate or intimidate a current or former partner. It can include verbal, written, image or video formats being used to perpetrate this abusive behaviour.”

Read more about online, digital or tech abuse.

October – human trafficking

October’s focus was on human trafficking to mark Anti-Slavery Week which ran from 18th – 24th October.

The signs of that someone may have been trafficked include a person…

  • Not knowing where they are
  • Not having personal possessions or ID documents
  • Being untrusting of authority figures
  • Seeming to not be able to talk freely
  • Working long & excessive hours
  • Having no access to money
  • Always working
  • Having unexplained injuries
  • Seeming fearful, anxious or depressed

Read more about human trafficking and our trafficking project.

November – children & domestic abuse

In November, we put our #SpotlightOn children and domestic abuse following the launch of our ‘Lonely Lockdowns’ animation launch in late October. We felt that it was very important to raise awareness of the effects domestic abuse have on children and young people, particularly over the past two years due to the pandemic.

Now, more than ever, children are acknowledged as equal victims of domestic abuse, not just witnesses.

Read more about our children’s services and our animation launch.

And that’s our #SpotlightOn campaign done for the year!

We hope that through this campaign, we’ve helped raise awareness of and draw attention to the various types of domestic abuse women and children are subjected to. We also hope that any woman reading this now who is living with domestic abuse from a current or former partner is able to recognise what is happening to them and reach out for support.

No form of abuse is acceptable, no matter what.

We know how isolating and terrifying living with abuse is, but we’re here to help. Please do not suffer alone – reach out to us for support.

Call us on 028 9066 6049.

Email us by clicking here.

Chat to us on our webchat.

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