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NRCN domestic abuse report exposes ‘hidden underbelly’ of rural life
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The National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) has released a report which has ‘uncovered a deeply hidden and disturbing side to rural life’. More than a year in the making, the report – ‘Captive & Controlled – Domestic Abuse in Rural Areas’ – looks for the first time ‘at domestic abuse specifically through the lens of rurality’ and provides recommendations that increased support services must be made available to rural abuse victims and survivors.
The key findings of the report include
- Abuse lasts, on average, 25% longer in the most rural areas
- Rurality and isolation are deliberately used as weapons by abusers, and the more rural the setting, the higher the risk of harm. Close-knit rural communities facilitate abuse, and traditional, patriarchal communities control and subjugate women
- Support services are scarce – less available, less visible and less effective, and retreating rural resources make help and escape harder. The short-term, often hand-to-mouth funding model has created competing and fragmented service provision
The key recommendations of the report are that:
- The government must apply its ‘rural proofing’ policy to domestic abuse, strengthening its commitment with a new duty on policy makers, commissioners and service providers to account for the specific needs of victims and survivors in rural communities
- Chief constables need to urgently assess and improve their service provision in rural areas
- Support services must improve their offer to rural victims and survivors
- Commissioners (in all their forms) need to collaborate more and provide simpler, more secure and longer-term funding
- Everybody needs to be willing to challenge the status quo and societal ‘norms’ in rural communities to redress inequality between men and women
The full report can be read here