'Women will die from lack of protection', warns domestic abuse victim

The police need to do more to protect domestic abuse victims, an Epsom woman has warned. The above picture has been constructed using actors.

The police need to do more to protect domestic abuse victims, an Epsom woman has warned. The above picture has been constructed using actors.

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A woman who claims she was assaulted by her husband last month has warned police failures to protect abuse victims will end up costing women's lives.

The woman, who lives in Epsom and is in her 30s, contacted the Epsom Guardian after the incident with her husband, from whom she has been separated for a number of years and with whom she has children. 

She visited his home, in another part of Epsom, at his request, on July 22, to discuss him providing greater financial support for their children.

But in contrast to the reasonable behaviour he had shown in text messages, the woman said he refused to let her in the house and an argument ensued.

She said her husband, whose father was in the living room of the house, went up to his bedroom, followed by his wife.

The woman admitted shouting at him but said he punched her when she accused him of showing a lack of caring towards one of their children.

She said: "I said to him ‘if you can’t support them financially, be emotionally in their lives then’. 

"I did shout.  I told him to be more of a presence in the children’s lives...  Then he punched me." 

The woman said she ran out of the house, to her sister, who was waiting outside and who was alarmed to see her injuries.

This newspaper has seen a picture of the woman’s injuries  - which included a swollen and bruised black eye - as well as blurred vision and a slight concussion, but, for legal reasons, cannot publish it or name her or her husband.

She called the police who arrested him, interviewed them both and took photographs of her injuries.   

But she was told that evening the police would not be pressing charges as there was insufficient evidence and no witnesses to the incident - an assertion she found outrageous because most incidents of domestic violence, by their very nature, occur behind closed doors without others present.   

She said: "So with every domestic abuse incident that happens the victim has to lead the husband outside in full public view so there are witnesses?

"So many women die each year through domestic violence and it’s the police’s fault that we have no protection.  We have got nobody."

A police spokesman said: "Surrey Police attended an address in Epsom on July 22 following an altercation between a man and woman after which allegations of an assault were made.

"A man was arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm, but was later released without charge owing to a lack of evidence, no independent witnesses and conflicting accounts given by those involved.

"Surrey Police is satisfied that all lines of enquiry were correctly pursued and that during the course of the investigation the matter was appropriately overseen."

The force refused to allow this newspaper to interview one of its domestic violence specialists to gain a better understanding of the way police approach incidents like this. 

A police spokesman said that following its campaign to raise awareness and encourage reporting of domestic violence at the start of the summer, there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of reported incidents compared to the same period last year, and a 33 per cent increase in charges. 

He said the force also has Domestic Violence Protection Notices and Orders at their disposal which ban anyone suspected of committing a domestic violence offence from returning to their victim’s home address and for having contact with the victim for 48 hours - a period which can be extended by 28 days by police application to the court.   

Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Women’s Aid, said: "On average two women a week are killed by a male partner or former partner, and the police receive a domestic violence related callout every 30 seconds, but we know many women are reluctant to report violence to the police.

"Police guidance is very clear on the broad range of possible evidence available to prevent a ‘he-said, she-said’ situation: it must be implemented if the police are to stop perpetrators and build up women’s trust.

"That’s why we urge forces to provide training for all officers to ensure they know how to fully investigate domestic violence."

Domestic abuse outreach services in the area include: East Surrey Outreach Service serving Banstead and Mole Valley - 01737 771350 and North Surrey Outreach Service serving Epsom and Ewell - 01932 260690.

A Surrey Police spokesman added: "All allegations of domestic abuse are taken extremely seriously, this incident being no different, and victims are always encouraged to report incidents by calling 101. 

"Incidents can also be reported online at surrey.police.uk.  Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

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