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How to help someone that you think might be experiencing domestic abuse

A new campaign has been launched in the North East, urging friends and family to stand up to domestic abuse if they think someone they know might be suffering. 

Written by High Life North
Published 12.06.2020

A new campaign has been launched in the North East, urging friends and family to stand up to domestic abuse if they think someone they know might be suffering. 

A series of posters and leaflets aim to dispel a range of excuses and myths around the causes of domestic abuse, such as blaming it on stress, alcohol consumption or ‘that’s just what their relationship is like’. 

Safe steps have been shared to help friends and family take action, which includes making suggestions to the victim and sharing support information if safe to do so. 

The campaign is in response to a survey of specialist Violence Against Women and Girls service providers revealed widespread concern over the impact of the pandemic.

Across the region, help groups said they are braced for a big demand on services, both during the different phases of the lockdown and in the recovery phase.

While some services reported an immediate increase in demand, many noticed a fall in calls and pleas for help as people trapped at home with their abuser struggled to reach out.

As well as the increased risk of violence and coercive control, service providers have also warned of increased demand around welfare issues, with access to food and food banks and fear of poverty and economic hardship a constant pressure.

Many charities and community groups have told the Police Commissioner that they are particularly concerned that during the first period of the pandemic lockdown they experienced a “calm before the storm” as many of those suffering try to weather the current crisis either unable to seek help or too afraid to leave their homes.

Now, the new campaign is setting out how friends and family of those suffering domestic abuse can support loved ones and help them escape the abuse.

New posters and leaflets are setting out starkly that there is no excuse for abuse, and make clear that “domestic abuse is everyone’s business”.

The campaign provides advice and contact information that can be passed on to those at risk by concerned friends and colleagues.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “This campaign is the result of lots of discussions about our local response to the domestic abuse emergency which took hold at the start of the pandemic. We all wanted a campaign to speak directly to the neighbour who can hear the intimidating voice hurling abuse on the other side of the fence, or the mother worried why her daughter’s stopped texting or messaging on the family thread. It’s these people who have suspicions and concerns that we are reaching out to. If you have a feeling that something isn’t right, the chances are it isn’t.”

She continued: “With this campaign, we’re saying ‘look, you can support the person you are worried about and here’s how’. There is no excuse to abuse another person, none whatsoever, so anyone who thinks that might be happening behind closed doors needs to do their bit to help – it could make a huge difference to someone’s life.”

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