Definition of domestic violence
According to the United Nations, domestic abuse, also known as “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, can be defined as a pattern of behaviour in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Domestic violence includes a range of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse which may extend to sexual, economical, and psychological nature. This type of violence occurs at any level of interpersonal relationships including couples, spouses, parents, siblings, and children.
Woes during the circuit breaker
Publicly-available statistics as compiled by Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) shows that there were 476 police reports filed for cases relating to domestic violence from April 7 to May 6 during the circuit breaker this year. This is a significant increase of 22% as compared to the monthly average of 389.
The Women’s Helpline run by AWARE has also seen a grave increase in the number of calls relating to domestic violence during the same period. It is speculated that the actual numbers could be higher as a number of cases have still gone unreported.
The unfortunate lockdown trend
There is a sharp increase in the number of reported cases of domestic violence across the world.
While domestic violence can never be justified, one of the reasons stated for the increase during the lockdown period is the lack of space with the imposed confinement. The isolation at home provides the abuser an opportunity to strengthen his or her control over their victim as it is difficult for the victims to access assistance or escape from their homes.
Moreover, individuals may experience significant stress with the change in lifestyle and social isolation. This extended period of time spent at home may lead to rising tensions and conflicts thus potentially leading to violence towards family members.
AWARE’s new initiative
AWARE has implemented a new chat service after its Women’s Helpline receives a high volume of calls since the start of the pandemic. This text chat service is intended for women in distress who are unable to find a safe space for a voice call.
“We recognise that being able to make a phone call is a freedom that many individuals are not afforded right now.” AWARE executive director Corinna Lim states, “We hope therefore that our new chat can provide more focused and direct assistance to survivors of violence who do not feel safe speaking on a call.”
Women who require social assistance may click on this link and schedule an appointment for the text chat service or for a call-back request.
To meet the rise in call volume, AWARE has also increased the number of staff members as well as expanding the Women’s Helpline from two to three phone lines.
A Mile in Her Shoes
The recent event, A Mile in Her Shoes, is a collaboration between AWARE, the jewellery brand Luxequisite, and fine-dining restaurant Sinfonia Ristorante. This collaboration intends to raise awareness of domestic violence and abuse as well as to raise $100,000 for AWARE.
Lydia Lim, the founder of Luxequisite and the key organiser, states that, “We believe that bringing awareness among Singaporeans is the first step to reducing family violence against women.”
According to the campaign site, Singapore has seen a worrying 112% spike in domestic violence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yet many people still have a rudimentary understanding of domestic violence, based on hazy stereotypes about physical violence, drinking problems, and anger management issues. Unfortunately, holding onto these myths can prevent many from seeking help, and it also deters friends and family from offering the appropriate support in difficult situations.”
To learn more about the campaign or to donate, please click on this link.
Reception of A Mile in Her Shoes
The 1.7km walk of A Mile in Her Shoes was held on 31st October. Participants were required to walk in heels of 3.5 inches and above from Republic Plaza to 11 Empress Place.
Hossan Leong, local actor and comedian, is the event’s special guest. His motivation for attending the event was due to the spike in cases during the pandemic, expressing his desire to raise awareness on domestic violence that this term constitutes both physical abuse and emotional torture.
Mr Leong expresses his sentiment, “For guys, walking in heels is no mean feat. It will certainly be a sight to behold, but I think it’s symbolic for us to be doing this, to show that we stand against [domestic violence].”
Help and assistance
While women and children are generally the victims of domestic violence, men can be the victims too. It is pertinent to recognise that domestic violence can happen to anybody and everybody regardless of their age and gender.
For victims of domestic violence or if you know someone who is experiencing abuse, please call the AWARE Helpline at 1800 777 5555 or the PAVE Integrated Services for Individual and Family Protection Specialist Centre (ISIFPSC) at 6555 0390.
If you are in immediate danger, please call the police at 999. For the full list of hotlines, please click on this link.
Please remember that home is a place where you should feel safe.