Abuse in rural areas in the UK is going unreported and unsupported

Last week, the National Rural Crime Network published a report into domestic abuse. The report follows 18 months research into rural Britain and has identified a multitude of factors that have led to victims being, what they have identified as, failed by the system, isolated, unprotected and unsupported.

The research was gathered from in depth conversations with victims of abuse and local support services.

The 10 key findings explain why abuse in rural areas can carry on undetected – whether its physical, sexual, mental or, financial; why it often goes unreported; why it isn’t detected and why victims are trapped without support.

The findings were published in the press last week. Charities and support networks are now calling for much more funding and training to reach those people in rural areas who need help and to restrain the perpetrators

The key points raised in the report include:

  • Abuse lasts, on average, 25 per cent longer in the most rural areas – Leaving abusers, speaking out about abuse , moving away from the abuser, particularly with children and animals can be much harder in rural areas than in urban areas. The options about where to go to after leaving home are also more limited and sometimes there is nowhere to go.
  • Traditional, patriarchal communities control and subjugate women – This seems to come from the historic background of these communities being run by men. They often hold the positions of authority in the community, as well as the money. This can lead to coercion and control. Victims can be prevented from speaking out in case they are isolated or rejected from their families and the community.
  • The policing response is largely inadequate – The further someone is from a police station, the less likely they are to contact the police. Female officers and officers trained in domestic violence and abuse are more scarce in these areas  – although this is improving.
  • Support services are scarce – less available, less visible and less effective – Support services are much harder to find in rural areas. The staff sometimes receives less training in the needs of abuse victims and the modus operandi of abusers than their equivalents in urban areas. Therefore, when a victim is able to reach the support services, it may be that the support they can provide may not be sufficient – putting the victim at greater risk.
  • The more rural the setting, the higher the risk of harm – This speaks for itself, in that the more rural the location, the less likelihood of support from police, social services and charities. The more rural the location, the more likely the victims is to stay with the abuser.
  • Reducing rural resources make help and escape harder for victims. – Declining public transport, GP surgeries and clinics that close, poor broadband and phone signals can make escape routes even hard for victims to access.
  • Rurality and isolation are deliberately used as weapons by abusers – It is well recognised that isolation from family, friends and communities are factors in abuse. The research has found clear evidence that abusers specifically move victims to rural settings to further isolate them. The more rural the area, the greater the impact of this isolation. This makes it harder for victims to escape that abuse. Abuse victims can feel held captive through such isolation.
  • The service provisions for support can often be short-term, often with hand-to-mouth funding models  in rural areas. – This means that the services that would support an abused person may be too stretched or non existent  in rural areas or the services could be withdrawn during the time the abused person needs support.
  • Close-knit rural communities facilitate abuse – The report outlines that rural communities can prevent people from reporting abuse for fear that someone they confide in may share this information. The police are often very visual in these communities and so it can be obvious that they have reported abuse.
  • An endemic data bias against rural communities leads to serious gaps in response and support – By this, the report means that resources are usually channelled into areas where abuse is known about. Better resources usually means more people report and so on. As fewer people report abuse in rural locations, money and resources are not channelled into these areas. Worrying, the situation therefore won’t improve –It’s a viscous circle.

If the content of this report affect you, then you need to find help and support. The police will listen to you and charities are not far away to help and support you, but you need to take the first step and let people know where you are.  You and your loved ones can be protected and supported.

If you have cooperated with the police and you have managed to escape from abuse, you can apply for monetary compensation for the harm that person or persons have done to you. This is where we come in. We can act for you and your children and bring a claim on your behalf. We can work with the police, the charities and social workers that are supporting you too, so that we are all part of your supportive network. This money could help you with the next new chapters of your life.

If you would like to have a completely private and confidential chat with us then feel free to contact us on 0161 615 5554 or by email to info@psg-law.co.uk and we will call you back at a time that suits you.

We are here to listen, help and act for you.