The Maria Stubbings Story
The family of a woman strangled by her former boyfriend and Refuge, the national domestic violence charity, are calling on the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to set up a Stephen Lawrence-style public inquiry to examine why victims of domestic violence, are still not getting sufficient protection from the police and other government agencies.
A highly critical report by the police watchdog was published recently, with the family of Maria telling the Guardian, that nothing short of a formal inquiry would prevent another family having to experience the failures by Essex police, that contributed to her death.
Maria was strangled to death and left in the downstairs toilet of her home in Chelmsford, Essex, in December 2008 by her former boyfriend, Marc Chivers. The police knew he had killed before, and that he had served time in prison for assaulting Maria. Yet, by the time that Chivers left prison, Essex police had disabled a panic alarm they had installed in her house, and failed to carry out any risk assessment when they did so – one of a number of failings highlighted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Manuel Fernandez, Maria’s brother, said his sister’s death must be a “catalyst for change” and an inquiry was needed to make sure that it takes place. “If there was ever a case that is an example of the state failing to protect a woman, then this is the case,” he said. “Since Maria’s death, there has been a degree of rhetoric about how things have changed, and yet, there is a long list of cases like Maria’s that continues to grow. How can this continue?
On another occasion, when Maria called for help after Chivers turned up at her home and stole her medication, the report of the incident was downgraded from domestic violence involving a “very high-risk victim” to a “burglary”
In the intervening days, police made several ineffectual attempts to contact Maria, including one visit where they turned up at her home to find Chivers in the house, and passed him a note asking for her to call them. When police finally realised the danger Maria was in – eight days later – they arrived at her home to discover her body hidden under a pile of coats in the downstairs toilet. Chivers was still in the house with Maria’s 15-year-old son, Bengi, whom he was closely watching in case the boy found his mother’s body.
Bengi now 19, said: “It is horrific to discover the extent of the police failings and hard to understand how they got it so wrong. The risk to my mum was clear. I don’t want other women and other children to go through an experience like that. We all deserve help and protection when we’re in danger – and they knew the danger.”
Also read Childalert’s article: Domestic Violence
SPEAK UP if you suspect Domestic Violence or Abuse.
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating — telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it — keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life. Talk to the person in private and let him or her know that you’re concerned. Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he or she feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let him or her know that you’ll help in any way you can.
Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.
Help For Abused Men
If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It happens to men from all cultures and all walks of life. Figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse by women because they feel embarrassed, or they fear they won’t be believed, or worse, that police will assume that since they’re male they are the perpetrator of the violence and not the victim.
An abusive wife or partner may hit, kick, bite, punch, spit, throw things, or destroy your possessions. To make up for any difference in strength, she may attack you while you’re asleep or otherwise catch you by surprise. She may also use a weapon, such as a gun or knife, or strike you with an object, abuse or threaten your children, or harm your pets. Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to violence.
Your spouse or partner may also: ·
Verbally abuse you, belittle you, or humiliate you in front of friends, colleagues, or family, or on social media sites. · Be possessive, act jealous, or harass you with accusations of being unfaithful. · Take away your car keys or medications, try to control where you go and who you see. · Try to control how you spend money or deliberately default on joint financial obligations. · Make false allegations about you to your friends, employer, or the police, or find other ways to manipulate and isolate you. · Threaten to leave you and prevent you from seeing your kids if you report the abuse.
Getting out of an abusive relationship.
Do you want to leave an abusive situation, but stay out of fear of what your partner might do? While leaving isn’t easy, there are things you can do to protect yourself. You’re not alone, and help is available. Below you will find a range of websites, phone numbers, email addresses all of which can provide you with substantial amounts of information to help you and give you advice:
1 in 4 Women
0808 2000 247 www.womensaid.org.uk
01823 334 244 www.mankind.org.uk