Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Awareness Week

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By HitchinPeople | Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 12:18

As Hertfordshire marks Domestic Abuse Awareness Week, November 21st to 27th, a new campaign is being launched in the county to encourage victims to come forward and seek help to end the abuse they may be suffering.

The 'Bringing victims out of the darkness' campaign was launched at a special event at Police Headquarters in Welwyn Garden City. It aims to highlight the wide range of support and services that are available to victims across the county.

Domestic Abuse can affect 1 in 6 men and 1 in 4 women. It can involve a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour and can include verbal, physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse.

Co-ordinated by the County Community Safety Unit (the joint unit between Hertfordshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire County Council and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service), the campaign is specifically targeting communities where the reporting of domestic abuse is particularly uncommon because of increased difficulties, perceived heightened risk or sensitivities.  This includes those in Black and Minority Ethnic communities, who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, the Gypsy/Travelling community or men.

Sarah Taylor, Programme Manager for Domestic Abuse in the County Community Safety Unit, said: "We're reaching out to these 'hidden victims' as we know that they feel they're unable to come forward and access the support and services that are available to help them.

"The main message to victims is that you're not alone, nor to blame for the abuse you're suffering. There are lots of ways you can get help and support, and this doesn't have to involve the police.

"We want to bring victims from out of the darkness and empower them to take the initial steps to take back control of their lives."

In the county there are a number of ways victims can get help, either through the police or from independent services.  Anyone affected or concerned by domestic abuse should call the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 088 (Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm) and visit the Herts Sunflower website for tailored information, advice and support. Both the website and helpline will also be able to direct victims to a number of specialist organisations, who are experienced in working with victims from a range of backgrounds, for help and advice. The helpline is free to call from landlines and will not show up on any telephone bill.  If there is an immediate danger, always dial 999.

A number of powerful, short videos have been made, where victims from different backgrounds have taken the brave move to share their experiences to encourage other victims to come forward to get help. They can be viewed on YouTube.

Sarah continued: "All year round we're committed to helping as many people as possible and I hope our awareness week will give victims the confidence to come forward and access the many services available to help them."

County Councillor Richard Thake, Executive Member for Community Safety, added: "Domestic Abuse Awareness Week is a real opportunity for victims to take those initial but difficult steps to come forward and get help. The provisions and care that are offered in Hertfordshire are excellent and can really make a difference to people's lives and I would urge victims to access them."

David Lloyd, Chairman of Hertfordshire Police Authority commented: "Domestic abuse can have a terrible impact on people's lives, it is important that agencies work together to give access to services so that victims can be safe and supported."

Throughout Domestic Abuse Awareness Week, council workers, police officers and staff, and health representatives will be holding events and running stalls in towns across the county to highlight the many specialist services that are available.

In North Herts and Stevenage, the Stevenage and North Herts Domestic Violence Forum have distributed 'Surviving Domestic Abuse' booklets (funded by the Community Safety Partnership) at council offices, Children's Centres, Registered Social Landlords and GP surgeries in both areas. There are also small displays at Letchworth and Hitchin Museums.

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