Last night’s shocking investigation – albeit that it was far too brief for the subject matter – provided a frightening insight into the facts of domestic violence. For instance, police all over the country are gearing up for one of their busiest times with regard to domestic violence reports – Valentine’s Day.
On average, more than one woman will be killed on or around Valentine’s Day when Cupid’s arrow may turn to a knife or fist…
Introduced by Fiona Foster, this film was made some five years after a bill was made law that intended to crack down on domestic abuse, but it’s as prevalent as ever and Fiona met with some of the victims of this almost hidden crime.
One of the worst cases was that of Lisa who was nearly killed by her abusive partner Steven Clarke. His brutal attack on her left her first in a coma then on awakening, it was discovered that she was brain damaged, paralysed and will never walk or talk again.
Clarke kicked Lisa in the head forty times in the horrific attack which took place in 2000. The couple’s daughter, Millie, was aged just two at the time. Now, her elderly parents – aged 66 and 64 – take care of both Lisa and their granddaughter which requires them to provide full time care.
Unbelievably, Clarke was sentenced to just four years which he served in an open prison and in actuality, he served only 2 ½ years. He’s now allowed to see his daughter as a court ordered that he should be permitted to, despite the fact that at his trial, the judge told Clark, “Short of actually killing her (Lisa), you could not have caused her more harm.”
During the weekend when Fiona and her team filmed this documentary, 373 arrests were made relating to domestic violence but still, sentences are pathetically lenient and often involve nothing more than community service orders, fines and ‘perpetrator programmes’ aimed at the rehabilitation of offenders.
Fiona also followed West Yorkshire police’s domestic violence unit as they made arrests over a busy weekend, armed with newly introduced “head cams” to capture footage of the scenes of the footage that await them.
Along with interviews with Association of Chief Police Officers, the Attorney General and Women’s Aid, we heard first hand the harrowing tales of women who’ve survived violent relationships and from the children who’ve been witness to them.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, this is a subject of considerable gravitas that simply wasn’t given enough time but the stories were truly shocking.
If you are a victim of domestic violence or have been affected by the issues that were raised in this programme, please call 0808 2000 24 7 which is a Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline. You can also visit www.womensaid.org.uk
If you recognise violent tendencies in yourself or are abusive towards your partner, please seek help by contacting Respect on 0845 122 8609 or visit www.respectphoneline.org.uk
Further information can be found at www.refuge.org.uk and www.stoponline.org