Press Release | 05 Jul 2022

Study finds millions may not recognise coercive control as Vodafone supports campaign to raise awareness

The research is part of the It’s Not Nothing campaign to raise awareness and provide support to anyone affected.

Four-in-10 British adults (43%) say their understanding of coercive control is poor or non-existent, according to a new study commissioned by Vodafone and domestic abuse charity Hestia as part of a campaign to raise awareness and provide support to anyone affected.

The campaign, called ‘It’s Not Nothing’, has been created by Vodafone Foundation and aims to help people recognise coercive control and direct people to the Bright Sky app and website as a source of help and support. The Bright Sky app is free from the App Store or Google Play.

Coercive control is when someone you know repeatedly behaves in a way which makes you feel controlled, dependent, isolated or scared.

The results of the study suggest that, despite media coverage and portrayals of coercive behaviour in popular dramas such as Eastenders and The Archers, millions of Britons might fail to recognise the warning signs.

When asked to consider behaviours consistent with coercive control in their own relationships, past and present, 23% said they had been isolated from friends and family. 19% had had their time monitored and 24% said they had been made to feel humiliated or degraded. Overall, more than a quarter (28%) said they had been in a relationship where they considered themselves to be a victim of coercive control.

The study also found that almost one-in-four (23%) would not know how to help a friend, colleague or loved one experiencing domestic abuse.

Bright Sky is a safe and easy-to-use app and website that provides practical support and information on spotting the signs of abuse and how to respond. It uses location data to help users find the nearest support services and is for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or for those concerned about family, friends or colleagues.

Bright Sky was developed by Hestia, Thames Valley Partnership and Vodafone Foundation and launched in the UK in 2018. The app is available in five languages – English, Urdu, Punjabi, Polish and Welsh – and has been downloaded 111,362 times in the UK since its launch. It is available in ten other countries where Vodafone operates as a business.

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Nicki Lyons, UK Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director, Vodafone said: “We have a long history of supporting people affected by domestic abuse, both within our own organisation and in local communities, with the help of brilliant partners like Hestia. Raising awareness of any type of domestic abuse is vital if we are to tackle it. Please download the Bright Sky app and share it with anyone who may need it.”

Patrick Ryan, CEO of Hestia said: “Domestic abuse is again on the rise. Bright Sky details the different types of abuse, the signs to look out for and a wide range of information and resources for friends and family to confidently signpost anyone they believe to be experiencing domestic abuse. Now more than ever, it is vital that all victims of domestic abuse know they are not alone, and we all have a part to play in that.”

Hestia recently reported a 30% increase in demand for domestic abuse refuge spaces and support in the first quarter of 2022.

Vodafone has a global domestic abuse policy in place for employees. One of the first of its kind, it provides specialist support for employees affected by abuse, including counselling and ten days of additional paid leave if needed. Vodafone’s toolkit on domestic abuse includes guidance for managers on remote working and how to support anyone impacted by abuse. It is available for all employers to download. Vodafone is a founding member of the Employer’s Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA).

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Notes to Editors

About the It’s Not Nothing campaign

The It’s Not Nothing campaign, created by Vodafone Foundation, shows examples of coercive behaviour over text message and reinforces that it is a form of abuse and should be taken seriously. It will run on Facebook and Instagram throughout July in the 11 countries where Bright Sky is available and Vodafone operates: Albania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, UK.

Since its launch, Bright Sky has been downloaded more than 177,000 times.

About the research

An online survey was conducted by independent market research agency Walr, among 2,000 adults aged 18+ in the UK. The research fieldwork took place between 27 and 28 June 2022. Walr is a member organisation of the Market Research Society and abides by all codes of practice.

Additional research findings

While one fifth of respondents (19%) said they would feel very confident recognising elements of coercive control against themselves or others, around 1-in-6 (16%) admitted they were not at all confident they could spot the signs.

Overall, more than a quarter (28%) said they had been in a relationship where they considered themselves to be a victim of coercive control. In this group, 39% said they kept silent about their experience. 19% said they were currently in a relationship where they experienced coercive control.

When asked to consider behaviours consistent with coercive control in their own relationships past and present, 23% said they had been isolated from friends and family, 19% had had their time monitored and 24% said they had been made to feel humiliated or degraded.

And while 78% were confident they could identify the practice of isolating someone from their family and friends as coercive behaviour, the term ‘Gaslighting’ – a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else to question their own reality, memory or perceptions – was poorly understood by 4-in-10 (39%) respondents,

Despite being a criminal offence in the UK since 2015, almost half of those of surveyed (48%) said they did not know this form of abuse can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

About Vodafone Foundation

Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity number 1193984) believes the power of connectivity can change lives and address some of the world’s most pressing problems. Founded in 1991, the charity connects people and ideas with technology and funding, to help those already doing good work to achieve results faster, more cost effectively and with a bigger social impact. For more than a decade, Vodafone Foundation has used technology to support victim survivors of domestic violence and abuse, connecting over 1.5m people affected to information, advice and support through a portfolio of ‘apps against abuse’. Through a strategy of Connecting for Good, Vodafone Group PLC’s philanthropic arm works in partnership with other charitable organisations and NGOs to create solutions that bring about long-term sustainable change and improve 480m lives by 2025.

About Hestia

For over 50 years, Hestia has provided support and hope every step of the way of recovery. Today, millions of people are experiencing domestic abuse, modern slavery and challenges with their mental health. Hestia believes no-one should suffer alone. Together, we can make sure people find a life beyond crisis.

At Hestia we support adults and children in times of crisis. We deliver services across London and the surrounding regions, as well as campaign and advocate nationally on the issues that affect the people we work with. Last year we supported 15,238 men, women and children. This includes victims of modern slavery, women and children who have experienced domestic abuse, young care leavers and older people. From giving someone a home, to helping them to get the right mental health support, we support people at the moment of crisis and enable them to build a life beyond a crisis. We are supported by over 900 volunteers across London who provide specialist skills such as art therapy, yoga, IT, gardening and cooking, as well as befriending and fundraising.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were also the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. As of March 2022, we have 5G in 380 locations across Europe – 141 in the UK and 239 across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 26 UK towns and cities, rising to 35 over the coming months, through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach. Our full fibre services are now available to more than eight million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

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