Domestic Violence, the hidden epidemic
The Discovery Show special on Friday 18 March 2016 from 17.30 – 20.00 on Floradio ( will focus on Domestic violence.

When you read this blog, you will like me, I feel certain, wonder why the sheer scale of the problem does not attract greater media attention and realise there is a need for action. I regularly work with adults who have or are suffering this experience and with adults whose childhood was blighted by this backdrop. The time for discussion and action is now.

Guests include:
  • Simon Parr, a police officer for 32 years, serving in Sussex Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire where he was Chief Constable for five years.  Despite big  budget cuts he invested heavily in a specialist unit to deal with the most vulnerable victims of crime, particularly victims of domestic violence.
  • Anna is a woman, in her forties with one child. After suffering years of both physical  and mental abuse from her husband she found the courage to leave. She continue to suffer at the hands of this man for a further 5yrs but has now found freedom. 
If you have any points to raise or observations or questions prior to the show, please send them via email to:

Who is affected?
It happens to all people whether men, women, or transsexual and whether heterosexual, gay or bi. Although we hear most often about women. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey (2014) estimated that in 2014:
  • 1.4 million women and 700,000 men have suffered domestic abuse
The ONS states domestic violence is at the following levels:
  • 4.9 million women, or 28%
  • 2.4 million men, or nearly 15%
The Stonewall Research (2012) estimates domestic violence in gay relationships is nearer 37%, and may exceed the level of domestic violence in straight relationships:
  • 49% of gay and bisexual men have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse from a family member or partner since the age of 16, compared to 17% of men in general.
  • 37% of gay and bisexual men have experienced at least one incident of domestic abuse in a relationship with a man.
  • 23% of gay and bisexual men have experienced domestic abuse from a family member since the age of 16.
  • 78% of gay and bisexual men who have experienced domestic abuse have never reported incidents to the police. (53% were not happy with how the police dealt with the situation.)
Gay women experience domestic violence at a very similar rate to that of heterosexual women (Waldner-Haygrud, 1997; AVP, 1992):
  • Between 17-45% of lesbian women have been the victim of at least one act of violence perpetrated by a female partner (Burke et al, 1999; Lie et al, 1991)
  • 30% of lesbian women have reported sexual assault / rape by another woman (Renzetti, 1992).
The problem is not caused by a gender, sexuality or race, but by people.


What is it? (Victims Support)
  • Physical abuse:
  • Pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, choking and using weapons.
  • Sexual abuse:
  • Forcing or pressuring someone to have sex (rape), unwanted sexual activity, touching, groping someone or making them watch pornography.
  • Financial abuse:
  • Taking money, controlling finances, not letting someone work.
  • Emotional/psychological abuse:
  • Making someone feel bad or scared, stalking, blackmailing, constantly checking up on someone, playing mind games.
The Cycle of Abuse (from New Hope), involves 3 phases:

Tension-Building Phase:
  • The victim senses tension and fears an outburst.
  • The victim tries to calm the abuser down and may “walk on eggshells” to avoid any major violent confrontations.
Violent Episode:
  • Outbursts of violent, abusive incidents by the perpetrator.
  • The abuser attempts to dominate his/her partner with the use of violence.
  • Includes physical or other types of abuse.
  • The abusive partner shows affection or offers an apology, with the appearance of an “end” to the violence.
  • The perpetrator shows overwhelming feelings of remorse and sadness.
  • Some abusers walk away from the situation, while others shower their victims with love and affection.
Common Myth:
Perpetrators just “lost control” when they emotionally or physically abuse their partners. This is not true. Domestic violence is the exact opposite of losing control. Perpetrators know what they are doing and use their abusive tactics of choice to maintain dominance in the relationship. Common excuses that abusers may use:
  • “It wasn’t me, it was the alcohol/drugs”, etc.
  • “You made me do it”, “You know how to push my buttons” or “You know how to get me going”
  • “I didn’t mean it”
  • “I just lost control”
  • “I won’t do it again”
More Myths
  • It only happens in poor families on council estates.
  • More women would leave if the abuse was that bad.
  • Abusers grow up in violent homes.
  • Some women like violence.
  • Women ask for it. They deserve what they get
  • Abusive men have a mental illness. They can’t help what they do.
  • He only hit her because he was under stress.
  • He loses his temper sometimes, that’s all.
  • Domestic violence is a private matter, you shouldn’t get involved.
Causes (Refuge):
There is no single cause of domestic violence. It comes from a combination of factors, including society’s attitudes, community responses, and the individual psychology experiences of the abuser and the abused.
Domestic violence is the result of an abuser’s desire for power and control. Women are considered less important by many in our society and this creates an imbalance of power between the sexes. As a result male abusers are too often allowed to get away with their actions.
The Impact (statistics supplied by Refuge)
  • 2 women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner (Office of National Statistics, 2015)
  • 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes (Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013/14)
  • Globally, 1 in 3 women will experience violence at the hands of a male partner (State of the World’s Fathers Report, MenCare, 2015)
  • Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime (Home Office, July 2002)
  • Every minute police in the UK receive a domestic assistance call – yet only 35% of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police (Stanko, 2000 & Home Office, 2002)
  • The 2001/02 British Crime Survey (BCS) found that there were an estimated 635,000 incidents of domestic violence in England and Wales. 81% of the victims were women and 19% were men. Domestic violence incidents also made up nearly 22% of all violent incidents reported by participants in the BCS (Home Office, July 2002)
  • On average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police (Jaffe, 1982)
  • 25% of children in the UK have been exposed to domestic abuse (Radford et al. NSPCC, 2011)
  • In 90% of domestic violence incidents in family households, children were in the same or the next room (Hughes, 1992)
  • 62% of children in households where domestic violence is happening are also directly harmed (SafeLives, 2015)
  • 30% of domestic violence either starts or will intensify during pregnancy (Department of Health report, October 2004)
  • Foetal illness from violence is more prevalent than gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia (Friend, 1998)
Cost to society
In November 2009, Sylvia Walby of the University of Leeds estimated the total costs of domestic violence to be £15.7 billion a year.  This is broken down as follows:
  • The costs to services (Criminal Justice System, health, social services, housing, civil legal) amount to £3.8 billion per year
  • The loss to the economy – where women take time off work due to injuries – is £1.9 billion per year
  • Domestic violence also leads to pain and suffering that is not counted in the cost of services.  The human and emotional costs of domestic violence amount to almost £10 billion per year
Rosie Batty, a real example:
In 2015, Rosie Batty became Australian of the Year. You can see the link to here acceptance speech below:

Ms Batty gained the award after she emerged as a leading voice calling on Australians to confront the problem of domestic violence and abuse and the devastating toll that violence by men was wreaking on Australian women and families.
Ms Batty came to national prominence through her own tragic experience. Her 11-year-old son Luke was murdered by his father and her former partner in 2014.
Her tireless efforts as an advocate for wholesale change to the approach to family violence made her a candidate for Australian of the Year.
Support and Resources:

24-hour National Domestic Violence  Freephone Helpline (in conjunction with Women’s Aid and Refuge)-
0808 2000 247

Domestic Violence unit or 999

Herts Sunflower Organisation – Backed by Herts Police & Herts Safeguarding Children Board
Domestic Violence & Abuse Helpline
08088 088 088

Broken Rainbow – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual
0300 999 5428
Opening Times: Monday & Thursday 10am – 8pm, Tuesday & Wednesday 10am – 5pm

Men’s Advice line
0808 801 0327 (free from landlines and most mobiles)
Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm

Southall Black Sisters
Provides information, advice, advocacy, practical help, counselling and support to Asian, African-Caribbean and other minority women and children experiencing domestic and sexual violence in a wide range of languages
Helpline: 0208 571 0800 (Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm)

08457 90 90 90
Opening Times: Daily, open 24 hours a day.

Runs support services and programmes for men and women who inflict violence in relationships.  They also provide an advice line for men who are victims of domestic violence.
0808 802 4040
Opening Times: Monday – Friday 9am - 5pm
The Discovery Show special on Friday 19 March from 18.00 – 20.00 on Floradio ( will focus on Domestic violence.

Guests include:
  • Simon Parr ex senior Police Officer who is passionate about addressing this subject
  • An individual who has experienced the disruptive and devastating impact of this problem and has regained control of their life.
If you have any points to raise or observations or questions prior to the show, please send them via email to:
The Roseto Effect
The Roseto Effect

HEALTH AND CULTURE - 1960's experiment in Roseto, USA

People are nourished by other people. The importance of social networks in health and longevity has been confirmed again by study of a close-knit Italian-American community in Roseto, Pennsylvania. At first blush, Roseto seems a diorama of what once was the nation's ideal lifestyle-neighbors who looked after one another, civic-minded joiners and doers who formed the grass roots of American-style democracy. It seems to showcase those virtues that have all but disappeared elsewhere in what has become what we are now--a nation of strangers.

At one time the village came to be a living laboratory demonstrating that neighborliness is good not just for the body politic (community) for the human body (self) as well. Now Roseto is changing, becoming a community of suburban commuters with satellite dishes, fenced-in yards, and expensive cars.

Thirty years earlier, medical researchers were drawn to Roseto by a bewildering statistic: in defiance of medical logic, Rosetans seemed nearly immune to one of the most common causes of death. They died of heart attacks at a rate only half of the rest of America. Doctors were mystified in that residents led what medical textbooks predicted would be short lives.

The men of the village smoked and drank wine freely. They spent their days in backbreaking, hazardous labor, working 200 feet down in nearby slate quarries. At home, the dinner tables each evening were laden with traditional Italian food, modified for local ingredients in ways that would drive a dietitian to despair.

The Mediterranean diet, with its use of olive oil rather than animal fat, has been touted lately for health benefits. But, poor immigrants couldn't afford to import cooking oil from their homeland and instead fry their sausages and brown their meatballs in lard. Yet, the resulting hefty bodies contained unusually health hearts. Why?


Study of the "Roseto Effect" began with a chance conversation over a couple of beers. A local physician happened to mention to the head of medicine at the University of Oklahoma that heart disease seemed much less prevalent in Roseto than in adjoining Bangor, occupied by non-Italians.

When first studied in 1966, Roseto's cardiac mortality traced a unique graph. Nationally, the rate rises with age. In Roseto, it dropped to near zero for men aged 55-64. For men over 65, the local death rate was half the national average.

The study quickly went beyond death certificates, to poke, prod, and extensively interview the Rosetans. Instead of helping to solve the puzzle, all the data simply ruled out any genetic or other physical sources of the Rosetan's resistance to heart disease. Two statistics about Roseto were eye-catching: Both the crime rate and the applications for public assistance were zero.


Subsequent study showed that all of the houses contained three generations of the family. Rosetans took care of their own. Instead of putting the elderly "on the shelf," they were elevated "to the Supreme Court." The scientists were led to conclude that the Roseto Effect was caused by something that could not be seen through the microscope, something beyond the usual focus of medical researchers.

It seemed that those groaning dinner tables offered nourishment for the human spirit as well as the body. In fact, all of the communal rituals--the evening stroll, the many social clubs, the church festivals that were occasions for the whole community to celebrate--contributed to the villagers' good health.

In "The Power of Clan," an updated report on studies by Stewart Wolf, a physician, and John Bruhn, a sociologist, cover a broad period of time from 1935 to 1984. They found that mutual respect and cooperation contribute to the health and welfare of a community and its inhabitants, and that self indulgence and lack of concern for others exert opposite influences.

Tracing the history of Roseto, the sociologists found that early immigrants were shunned by the English and Welsh who dominated this little corner of eastern Pennsylvania. According, the Rosetans turned inward and built their own culture of cooperation and as Wolf and Bruhn noted, "radiated a kind of joyous team spirit as they celebrated religious festivals and family landmarks."

"People are nourished by other people," said Wolf, noting that the characteristics of tight-knit community are better predictors of healthy hearts than are low levels of serum cholesterol or tobacco use. He explained that an isolated individual may be overwhelmed by the problems of everyday life. Such a person internalized that feeling as stress which, in turn, can adversely affect everything from blood pressure to kidney function. That, however, is much less likely to be the outcome when a person is surrounded by caring friends, neighbors and relatives. The sense of being supported reduces stress and the disease stress engenders.

"We looked at the social structure of healthy communities," Wolf said, "and found that they are characterized by stability and predictability. In those communities, each person has a clearly defined role in the social scheme."

Into the 1960s, Roseto was the epitome of predictability and conformity. In clothing, housing or automobiles, any display of wealth was taboo. Women knew that, from their teens on, they would work in one of the many small blouse factories scattered throughout the village. Even the evening meal followed a rigid cycle.

"Monday" recalled 66-year old Angie Martocci, "almost everyone in town ate spezzati (a spinach and egg soup). Tuesdays, it was spaghetti and gravy (tomato sauce). Wednesday was roast chicken and potatoes. Thursday, spaghetti again. Fish on Fridays, of course. Veal and peppers on Saturday; and antipasto, meatballs and spaghetti on Sunday."

All of that conformity reduced the distance between the haves and have-nots, thereby reinforcing everyone's sense of conformity also spared Rosetans the stress that comes with freedom of choice. (My comment: the anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis in his video series Millenium that individuals in a tribal society grow up in a defined world where people know their place and their relationship to others. We grow up with freedom, he says, in a limitless world where we are often lost and terribly alone.)

Possibly the strongest conformity in the village was the work ethic. No only did everyone work here, they worked toward a common goal--a better life for their children. The reverence for work was the legacy of Roseto's first priest, Rev. Pasquale de Nisco. Arriving in 1896, De Nisco practiced what he preached. Taking up a pick and shovel, he started clearing ground next to the church to build the graveyard, where he now lies. Above all, De Nisco, whose influence is still strong in Roseto, preached education.


In the slate quarries and blouse factories, the men and women of Roseto labored to be able to send their children to college, which they did at a rate far above the national average. By World War II, Roseto had a small white-collar class and was prospering. And of course with that, life began to change.

Wolf and Bruhn's study took place just as Roseto's golden age of community was drawing to a close. They were able to predict that Rosetans then under 30 would not long be content with their rigid, traditional lifestyle. By the '70s, homes on the outskirts of town were in the suburbanized style that had become the American norm: large single family houses, swimming pools, fenced years, country clubs, and churches outside of the community.

As people moved and achieved material success, they found those gains at the expense of traditional communal values with which they have been raised. One person said, "I'm sorry we moved; everything is modern here and we have everything I need here, except people."

The principal of the elementary school said that children's lives changed. They went from days filled with activities to lives of watching from the sidelines. She found she had to teach children how to play jacks and marbles. The strongest evidence that change had come to Roseto was in 1985 when the town's coronet band, founded in 1890, demanded for the first time to be paid for playing at the church's big festival.

As Wolf and his colleagues continued to monitor the health of the community, they noted that social change in the village was accompanied by increasing health problems. In 1971, the first heart attack death of a person less than 45 occurred in Roseto.

Nationally, the Americans' vulnerability to heart attack began to decline because of the widespread adoption of exercise programs and healthier diet. At the same time, the Rosetan's rate rose to the national average.

Roseto has lost its statistical uniqueness. Yet, it makes clear to a visitor that it retains a sense of community--one that would be the envy of almost any place else in the nation. For many families, eating remains a ritual of the communal nature of life here. On Sundays, extra chairs are drawn up and leaves are added to dinner tables all over town for a ceremony that satisfies both physical hunger and the hunger to be surrounded by people who share our lives.

At Rose's Cafe, the only restaurant remaining in town, proprietor Rose Pavan calls everyone by name. Anyone with questions about menu items is swept into the kitchen for a sample. Children, most in Catholic school uniforms, flock in for an after-school snack--just as parents did back when Rose's was Mary's Luncheonette.

A visitor is bound to come away from Rose's with a full stomach and even fuller appreciation how far the rest of us have drifted from the civic-mindedness that marked much of the nation's history.

(My comment: this article is drawn from a series done by The Chicago Tribune on America's loss of community. Other articles focused on our changing urban/suburban social fabric. They noted the social changes implied by suburban homes where the garage is in front and both parents are employed, often an hour drive away. This article was especially relevant for medical anthropology's emphasis on bio culture, the interrelationship between culture, health and disease.)

If older Rosetans are concerned that they have traveled too far down the path of materialistic fulfillment--a path that seems never to end in lasting contentment--shouldn't other Americans be at least as concerned?

We now know that people's reaction's to the same stressful experience vary widely and those who have a greater sense of control, support and satisfaction in their lives are less at risk of illness. Those who get sick most seem to view the world and their lives as unmanageable while those who stay healthy have a greater sense of coherence and control through faced with the same problems. The Rosetans, to put it in Darwinian terms, were a successful adaptation.

A wide range of illness reflects the role that ineffective coping and inadequate support play. The highest rates of tuberculosis have been found among isolated and marginal people who have little social support, although they may live in affluent neighborhoods. This article focused on heart disease, others are indicators of social life as well. These include respiratory diseases, accidents, and mental illness. Studies in England have shown that civil servants with the highest rate of death from coronary heart disease occurs amongst those with little social support. We are indeed nourished by contact with others.


A study published in the British Medical Journal in 1999 found that people more than 65 who like to eat out, play cards, go to movies and take part in other social activities live an average of two ½ years longer than more reclusive people. Simply mixing with people seems to offer as great a benefit as regular exercise. Social and productive pursuits are equivalent to and independent of the merits of exercise.

In a similar study at Harvard, it was found that those who were most engaged in productive pursuits were 23 percent less likely to die than those least involved in such pursuits. When each activity was examined individually, doing a lot as opposed to not much, extended live in almost every case regardless of the activity.

Does humor matter? While it is popularly accepted that laughter speeds healing and fights disease, some researchers say that laugher isn't the best medicine after all. A review of humor research does not confirm a direct therapeutic effect of laughter.

Does love matter? In a study of 10,000 married men, it was found that-in the subsequent five years-men who felt love from their wife had significantly less angina that those that felt no love.

People who perceived themselves as socially isolated were found to be two to five times more at risk for premature death from all causes. Persons with low interpersonal conflict in their lives do best.