Here at FLAG DV we have been reflecting upon the fascinating documentary Behind Closed Doors shown on ITV on 14th February and shown again yesterday (available on ITV player).
The programme makers had unprecedented access to the Thames Valley Police Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit and the victims / survivors they work alongside. Filmed over a 12 month period, and starting from the moment a 999 call is received, the film followed three brave women, who shared their experiences to help the wider public gain an understanding of the issue of domestic abuse.
Personally, the documentary evoked in me a number of emotions, and I must admit many of them were negative.
- Fear– for the safety of the women and children living in dangerous and unpredictable situations,
- Anger- towards the men who treated their partners cruelly and violently
- Frustration -towards the criminal justice system which bound by ‘red tape’ appeared restricted at times in their ability to impose the sanctions these men deserved following their treatment of those they claimed to love the most………………. Not good!!
However, despite all of the negative emotions, my overriding emotions were most definitely positive and took the form of respect and hope.
I felt respect for the work of Thames Valley Police in their quest to identify domestic violence as a huge social and criminal issue, and in their constant efforts to bring the perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse to justice. Along with partner agencies, the Domestic Abuse Investigation Officers showed empathy and understanding and themselves appeared to experience the same emotions I myself felt when watching the documentary.
However, the majority of my respect was reserved for the women who allowed me as a viewer to share their story and gain an insight into the complex relationships they had with their partners. They showed guts and determination and despite the setbacks, crisis of confidence and the loss of what was familiar to them, saw their journey through to the point where they all appeared to feel a sense of self- respect, empowerment and positivity about the future.
Although sharing their journeys was an uncomfortable watch at times it still gave me hope ………….I hope that this documentary continues to chip away at the belief some people still have that domestic violence is not a serious offence, I hope that it raises awareness and encourages those in need to seek help and support, in managing a situation which is not of their own making, I hope that perpetrators of domestic violence watched the documentary, recognised some familiar behaviours and felt shame and humiliation leading them to seek the support they need in order to change.
But most of all, I hope that the three women featured in the documentary go on to enjoy a safe and happy life in the knowledge they have helped other victims and survivors of domestic violence seek the help and support that is so often needed to break this complex and vicious cycle.