Imagine being beaten by your husband or threatened with deportation and having your children removed from you. Perhaps police show up in response to a call or complaint but you can’t speak their language.
How would you deal with family members angry with you for bringing shame to your family or to your community?
Domestic violence is vastly underreported in Asian communities for a number of reasons. The language barrier is a huge obstacle as is the great sense of bringing shame to the family.
For many Asian women, their entire sense of identity is wrapped up in relationship to their families. Often Asian women will refer to themselves as ‘someone’s wife’ or ‘someone’s mother’. They often don’t introduce themselves or other women by name.
Another problem identified is the link between violence and love in some Asian families. Many Asian people grow up in a society or a culture where corporal punishment is acceptable, to a certain degree, such as the misbehaviour of a child. The notion ingrained as time goes along is that, ‘well, daddy/mummy hit me because I was naughty and they wanted to correct me because they love me’.
Now victims of domestic violence in Leeds are being urged to not suffer in silence and take steps to access a wide range of support services available in the city.
Working with a range of partners, including West Yorkshire Police and the NHS, Leeds City Council’s Safer Leeds Partnership is providing help in a number of ways to tackle domestic violence, support victims and work with previous offenders.
Available 24 hours a day, the Leeds Domestic Violence Service (LDVS) phone line offers confidential support and advice from trained staff for all victims of abuse aged 16 or older.
Callers are assured that they will be listened to and treated with dignity and respect and can be offered access to further services depending on their needs.
Depending on personal circumstances, a place in a refuge may also be offered but at no time will pressure be put on any caller to leave their partner or home if they are unsure or do not want to.
The Safer Leeds Partnership is also responsible for overseeing enquiries which are made as part of new legislation entitled ‘Clare’s Law’, which enables people to ask police if their partner has a history of domestic violence. The partnership uses a multi-agency approach to respond to women and/or their relatives who enquire about the past domestic violence offences if they are concerned the person may cause harm to a partner.
An innovative new pilot project working with men to improve their relationships with their children and partners and reduce their risk at home has also been launched in three areas of Leeds. This is a 17-week programme called ‘Caring Dads’.
Councillor Mick Coulson, Leeds City Council’s lead member for community safety said: “We would urge anyone who is experiencing domestic violence to please seek support from the wide range of services available in Leeds.
“Nobody should have to suffer in silence, and we would like to reassure anyone who is thinking of contacting us that out trained staff will always listen, never judge and offer the best practical advice and support.”
For further help and advice, or if you are from outside the Leeds catchment area, there are also a number of national numbers to call.
Leeds Domestic Violence Service (0113) 246 0401
Leeds ‘Caring Dads’ 0113 395 1377
Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 (for women)
Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327 (for men)
In any emergency, please ring West Yorkshire Police on 999,
or for further help and advice call 101.