A victim of domestic violence who suffered physical and emotional abuse for more than two decades has said she was “systematically failed” by the courts and people employed to help her.
The woman was speaking at the annual general meeting of Kingston’s Islamic Resource Centre, where women from different backgrounds spoke out about their experiences of domestic violence on Wednesday.
At the Shiraz Mirza Community Hall, the woman stared at the floor and shook as she told her story.
Now four years into a legal battle with her husband, that she said left her homeless and penniless, she told of how one court lost her divorce papers, while a solicitor was found guilty of misappropriating her client funds.
She said: “Four years into a legal battle and I have run out of money. It was systematic abuse against a background of domestic abuse.
“I got to the point where I was suicidal. As an abused person you need to feel validated. I have been systematically failed.”
Another woman from Kingston ended up fearing for her life when a relationship turned violent.
She said: “They are good at mirroring what you are looking for – they are very, very clever. I think I was the third such relationship in his life.
“I was locked in a room for five hours – I had my nose broken.
“It was really, really horrific. I was fighting for my life and I wasn’t sure I would see my children again.”
Often in cases of domestic violence many of the same women find themselves in similar situations in new relationships.
Last week’s Operation Big Wing, which aimed to target perpetrators of domestic violence across London, did not make any domestic violence-related arrests in the borough.
Joe Keogh, Kingston’s crisis and risk manager at domestic violence support group One Stop Shop, said the same perpetrators cropped up again and again.
She said: “You have to remember it is not just the same victim, it’s also the same perpetrator. And that perpetrator will go on to another abusive relationship.
“It is far more likely that you will see the same name of a male perpetrator come up time and time again than see the same victim. We need more money put into perpetrator programmes.
“It is about holding somebody to account through the criminal justice system.
“I do have faith in the criminal justice system. I have seen people go into prison for domestic abuse.”
In the past two years the number of domestic violence incidents in Kingston has dropped while detection rates have increased.
A spokesman from Kingston police said: “The detection rate last rolling year was 43.2 per cent, this year it is 56.8 per cent – an increase of 13.6 per cent. This is an increase of 32 offences detected.
“We take all allegations of domestic violence seriously and will continue to investigate robustly.”
Kingston One Stop is open every Monday, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, at Kingsgate Church, above The King’s Tun in Clarence Street, Kingston.
No appointment is necessary.
Call 07917 271549 for more information.