Domestic abuse survivor on why walking away is not easy

Domestic abuse survivor on why walking away is not easy
By Cristina Giner
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'One day I will change - but how long will that take?'


Roughly 10% of women in Spain have said they suffered from some form of gender violence. For those who have, it is often difficult to decide to leave home and move on from the trauma.

"You can’t just say you will go to the psychologist for two days and that's it," one survivor of domestic abuse told Euronews. "No. There are setbacks."

The survivor, who declined to be identified for fear that her husband could track her down, said that she still fears running into him in the street.

"There are times that you get very nervous with anxiety attacks, it seems that you keep going backwards," she said.

"One day I will change, and I will not be afraid, but when will that be?"

A focus on services for women

Spain passed the first comprehensive law against gender violence in Europe in 2004.

The law was intended to include different parts of society to engage on the issue including the education and social sectors.

Healthcare - especially primary care - is one of the key areas for detecting violence, said Pilar Babi, a doctor of primary health care in the neighbourhood of La Pau in Barcelona.

"Violence against women has effects on health that are not always obvious. But if you recognise the signs you can look for the ultimate cause, but if you have not been trained then you won't recognise the signs," she said.

But it can be difficult for women to seek services which are heavily over-subscribed.

"We face many difficulties, especially because services are saturated. After doing prevention campaigns, many women realise that they are suffering violence and when they seek these services they are full," said Carla Rigol, a psychologist at the non-profit feminist organisation Hèlia Association.

Improving on legislation

Spain's 2004 law was pioneering in Europe, but for some health professionals it does not go far enough. It should be expanded, they argue, to protect not just former partners but other family members, as well as victims of abuse at work or in the wider community.

It could also be more specific in its definition of the different forms of gender-based violence, and reflect the fact that psychological abuse - for example - is far harder to prove in court than physical abuse.

Read more:

'Every society' has violence against women, expert says

These are the names of the 999 female victims of domestic violence in Spain

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