Domestic abuse in the news

Yet another tragic case which has such common themes, the victim was vulnerable, they lived in an isolated situation, the children saw their father killed and he carried a number of injuries when examined. The Prosecutor said Mr Donnelly, a former music teacher, was unable to walk and had become disabled by January, but his wife inflicted "mental and physical suffering" until the time of his death. (BBC news)

A woman who killed her husband after "systematically" abusing him and hitting him with a rolling pin has been jailed.

Hannegret Donnelly, 55, controlled husband Christopher's life "through threats and beatings", police said. He had 78 external injuries and various internal ones, including spine and neck fractures, when he died in March 2018.

This is fantastic news for our friends at Level Up and their campaign to end irresponsible reporting in domestic deaths. Many of us have seen news articles where irrelevancies are used to somehow excuse or explain the crime. Level Up are still collecting signatures to their petition and trying to give those who die in horrific circumstances (and their families) some dignity- As they put it- Every bad article on domestic violence is a missed opportunity to help prevent further deaths. Responsible reporting can improve public understanding of domestic violence, help victims and their families seek justice and help women at risk access support. (Press Gazette)

The UK’s two press regulators have endorsed a feminist campaign group’s new set of guidelines on the reporting of domestic violence deaths.

Level Up said the guidance would “set a bar” for journalistic standards on fatal domestic abuse stories and help put an end to families of victims having their grief and trauma “compounded by irresponsible reporting”.

This amazing case against two Detroit doctors has now ended with a case being thrown out by a Judge. The judge is claiming that Federal law which oulaws FGm is "unconstitutional". Prosecutors have now withdrwan their appeal and a number of US states do not havie any local legislation in place to criminalise FGM, See the TV clip on the attached link. (XYZ.Com US based TV Channel website)

DETROIT — The U.S. Justice Department won't appeal a decision by a Detroit federal judge who threw out female genital mutilation charges against members of a Muslim sect.

Solicitor General Noel Francisco calls it an "especially heinous practice." But in a letter to Congress, he says the law needs to be changed to be constitutional under U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Judge Bernard Friedman in November said the law was unconstitutional because Congress didn't have power to regulate genital mutilation. The government pulled its appeal on March 30.

This significant Supreme Court decision is a major development for social media and survivors of domestic abuse. The article ends with, "Their judgment is not only a victory for the victims and survivors of domestic abuse but a victory for freedom of speech online". (Human Rights news, views and info)

Nicola Stocker has won a five-year legal battle against her ex-husband after two defeats, marking a new chapter for her and other domestic abuse survivors. 

Nicola’s ex-husband began the long libel battle over comments she made to her ex’s new partner, Deborah Bligh, about the domestic abuse she suffered at his hands. In a Facebook exchange, Mrs Stocker told Bligh how her ex-husband had “tried to strangle her”, had been removed from their household for threatening her, had broken a non-molestation order and that he had been involved in guns.

The decriminalisation of Russian domestic abuse caused such an outcry from the rest of the globe last year. Russia took this step whilst everywhere else governments are busily trying to find ways to address the issues and protect the vulnerable. Now the United Nations are questioning them. (The Moscow Times)

Russia has breached the rights of a Chechen domestic abuse victim, a United Nations women’s rights panel ruled on Friday in what has been called the UN’s first decision on domestic violence in the country.

This shocking figure released this week from aberdeen makes interesting reading. With shrinking refuge spaces nationally, the problems will continue to fly in the face of increasing demand. (The Press & Journal)

New data from Aberdeen City Council shows there were 258 incidents in which people felt forced to flee their homes due to a dispute which was violent or abusive in 2017-18. In 2013-14, that figure was 99.

Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said it was “shocking” that domestic abuse is the main reason for women making a homeless application in Scotland.

This interesting article discusses a recent US study on domestic homicides. It identifies that there has been a clear reduction in males being killed since the 1970s but an increase in females being murdered. It suggests the paradox that increasing female access to Restraining Orders, easier divorce for women etc seems to have reduced the number of men murdered by a female partner. Whatever the cause, this is all extremely relevant, as the US is currently discussing the reauthorisation of legislation (the Violence against Women Act) which strengthens the national response to domestic abuse. It is being objected to by the National Rifle Authority who strenuously argue against US citizens losing their right to bear arms- even if convicted of DA offences. (Huffington Post)

After almost four decades of decline, homicide among romantic partners is now on the rise, according to recent research by Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. The worrisome uptick has been primarily driven by gun violence, he told HuffPost in an interview.

Fox’s paper, which was authored with Ph.D. student Emma Fridel, analyzed gender differences in homicide patterns over a 42-year period, using data obtained from the FBI.

This tragic case from Sussex is not unique; despite so many positive changes in police responses and training around domestic abuse. Cases like this should serve as a reminder to all services of the need to take victim's fears seriously and strive to ensure they protect people safely. Sussex police (one of three forces, trialling a pilot risk assessment tool) were also criticised this week by the Independent Office on Police Conduct investigation report on a domestic double murder with issues around the risk assessment and stalking screening- (Independent)

Officers are facing disciplinary action after Shana Grice was fined for wasting police time before she was murdered by her stalker.

Two police officers, one of whom has retired, will face gross misconduct proceedings in front of an independent chairman at public hearings on 7 and 10 May, Sussex Police confirmed. Another police officer will face internal misconduct proceedings, which are carried out in private.

We all know that gender based violence affects females disproportinately but men and boys can still suffer too. This is why this statement from the UK's Violence Against Women & Girls Startegy is so very important. (HM Government website)

The Home Office has pledged to go further in helping men and boys who are victims of crimes such as domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Today, the government has published its first cross-government position statement on male victims of crimes, which sets out the scale of abuse against men and the specific vulnerabilities they face.

This report is the fourth in a series of thematic reports which consider the response the police service provides to victims of domestic abuse.