Domestic abuse campaign launched amid concern over increase in cases
Police and other organisations across Dorset are raising awareness around domestic abuse amid concerns it may increase over the coming weeks due to the impact of Coronavirus.
Communities are being reassured they will still have access to vital support services despite the current uncertainty.
A new campaign will highlight the fact that whatever type of abuse takes place – whether it is physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial – the abuser is trying to control the victim and uses abuse or violence to achieve that control. It will also tell victims how to access help and support.
The campaign, being launched digitally, aims both to raise awareness that domestic abuse may increase with people self-isolating, and to provide reassurance that help is available during these unprecedented times.
Superintendent Gemma Morris of Dorset Police said: “Sadly, Covid-19 may cause a rise in domestic abuse and the cycle of violence may intensify with people having to isolate themselves, and those who may be experiencing it may be unsure how to access support.
“We are committed to the safety of children and families experiencing domestic abuse and it is important that victims know how and where to get advice and support.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, Martyn Underhill, is responsible for delivering victim care in the area and works closely with partner agencies to ensure help is on hand to those who need it, including victims of domestic abuse.
He said: “We’re in an unprecedented situation and we have to prepare for all eventualities, which unfortunately includes the possibility that a period of mass isolation means we’ll see an increase in cases of domestic abuse.
“Sadly, some children could be safer when they attend school regularly, as teachers are able to spot signs that something might be wrong at home and report this to the authorities.
“I want to reassure victims that despite the current uncertainty, support is still available for them and they don’t need to wait for lockdown or self-isolation to end before they get help.
“Remember, domestic abuse doesn’t just mean violence – it also includes the new offences of coercive and controlling behaviour in which perpetrators psychologically manipulate their victims. If you’re experiencing any form of abuse you do not have to put up with it, and even if you don’t want to report it to the police there is a wide range of support available to you, such as the Victim Support Live Chat service.”
If you or your children are in immediate danger you should call 999. However there are many other ways you can access help from specialist services.
In a non-emergency, you can also report a crime 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 101, using the 101 webchat, or the online crime reporting form - both on the force website – www.dorset.police.uk.
There’s also a useful AskNed system that provides online advice on a range of issues and by signing up to Neighbourhood Alert regular updates and information can be received from the OPCC.
Dorset County – You First – 0800 032 5204
Poole Outreach (24 hours) – 01202 710 777
Bournemouth Outreach (24 hours) – 01202 547 641
Victim Support provides emotional and practical help to victims of crime in Dorset, and have a dedicated team which specialises in helping victims of domestic abuse.
They provide a Live Chat web-based support service that will be available to victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The service is confidential and free to use. Go here to visit the Victim Support Dorset site and access the service.
You can get help from the Dorset team by calling 0300 3030 163 from Monday to Friday 9am-6.30pm.
The National Domestic Violence Helpline is a freephone number available on 0808 2000247 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This portal provides advice for victims and profession
Women’s Aid – visit www.womensaid.org.uk email and online chat room 10-12pm Monday to Friday
24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
Respect helpline 0808 802 4040 (for anyone worried that they may be harming someone else)
Crime can also be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via its website – www.crimestoppers-uk.org