Devon & Cornwall Police launch domestic abuse awareness campaign

From Devon & Cornwall Police:

Devon & Cornwall Police is today launching a campaign to raise awareness around domestic abuse and the emotional and psychological impact of controlling and coercive behaviour.

The campaign also aims to reassure people that they will still have access to vital police and support services despite restrictions related to COVID 19. Victims can also often see an escalation in domestic abuse following Christmas and New Year.

The campaign will use a poem, released verse by verse at regular intervals throughout the campaign, to illustrate the story arc of an abusive relationship, from what is often a very positive and exciting beginning followed by the descent into abuse.

The poem will use contributions from survivors of domestic abuse, which will be invited via social media.  People will be able to watch the poem develop and see the completed poem at the end of the campaign.

Once completed, the poem will be turned into a video featuring survivors of abuse.  The video will then be used to help further raise awareness around abusive relationships and encourage those suffering abuse to report to police and to seek help.

Domestic abuse is about control.  Bullying and manipulation are used to control and coerce a victim into submission.

Detective Superintendent Ben Beckerleg, Local Investigations Cornwall, for Devon & Cornwall Police said, “It’s been a tough year for all of us dealing with COVID-19 virus.  Sadly, things may have become worse for those suffering abuse, especially having to live through three periods of lockdown.  This lack of contact with the outside world, whilst living with their abuser may well have made things even worse for those in abusive relationships.  The cycle of violence may also intensify with people having to isolate themselves and being unable to socialise in the normal ways.

“It is important that victims know how and where to get advice and support. We encourage people to report any incidents by phone or online via the Force website”.

Abuse survivor, Jane (not her real name), said: ‘As a survivor of several abusive relationships,  I have experience of the type of cruelty and manipulation an abuser uses to control a victim.   One ex treated me like a princess and really looked after me at first, but then started to turn on me.  When I started to think he wasn’t the knight  in shining armour I thought he was he told  me it was all in my head.  He made me give up my job to work with him.  He would threaten to tell my parents nasty things about me.  He accused me of ‘dancing dirty’ on holiday and beat me up.  We did split up in the end and I got a new job, but he constantly harassed me.  In the end I was scared to go home, so I got the police involved.  They were amazing.  I’m not sure I’d still be here today if I hadn’t.

“I know that other people experience similar things in an abusive relationship, and I’m keen that others don’t suffer what I did, which is why I am supporting this campaign.  I hope that by creating this poem with other survivors, people will understand how abuse happens and seek help if they are in an abusive relationship.”

Sarah West, manager of the Victim Care Unit added: “It is really important that people recognise signs of abuse within their relationships and hopefully this campaign will help provide that information.

“Understanding and recognising what an abusive relationship is increases the chances that someone will seek support.  The Victim Care Unit works with DA specialist services across the region.  Our team can talk through the support options available to people experiencing abuse.”

The campaign will be rolled out via social media and will include mobile phone banner messaging. Signposting to help with be provided to the Devon & Cornwall Police website, (www.domesticabusehelp.co.uk) which lists the various agencies that can provide help and support.

The campaign aims both to raise awareness that domestic abuse may increase with people self-isolating, and to reassure people that help is available during these unprecedented times.

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