Campaign dispels myths of domestic abuse

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A campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse was launched last month by Thames Valley Police, Domestic Abuse Co-ordinators and Crimestoppers to increase awareness and promote early intervention in an attempt to break the cycle of abuse.

Crimestoppers have released the following information about dispelling the myths of domestic abuse:

There is no escaping the news headlines about domestic abuse; we all know it exists but when confronted with a domestic abuse situation ourselves, how many of us hold preconceived views that blur our ability to recognise the signs?

Myth: Abusers are violent because they cannot control their anger

Myth: Children are not affected by domestic abuse in the home

Myth: Victims choose abusive partners

Myth: Victims can leave if they want to

The realities are that domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling behaviour that can lead to physical and sexual violence, not a problem with managing anger. All children being brought up where there is domestic abuse are impacted by it. Victims can be of any sex, any age, and any social group. Anger, alcohol, stress, culture are never justifiable reasons for abuse. Also, it can be hard to leave an abusive relationship; fear, love, children and years of confidence knocking, are just a few of the factors that can make it difficult to leave a relationship. Family and friends often do not know what to do when someone they love is being abused.

Liz Jones, Domestic and Sexual Abuse Co-ordinator in Oxford commented: “When faced with so many misconceptions it is easy to believe if you don’t ‘fit the bill’ you are not a victim. You can try to convince yourself that the children are too young to realise what is happening, that the abuser is sorry, that maybe you were to blame. The reality is that no one should have to suffer domestic abuse. By adding this new section on myths and reality to our website, www.speakouttoday.co.uk, we hope to dispel the stereotyping of domestic abuse and stop the suffering before it is too late.”

Crimestoppers, Thames Valley Domestic Abuse Coordinators and Thames Valley Police partnered up last month to launch the Speakouttoday campaign to help guide family, friends and colleagues of domestic abuse victims in how to support them while ensuring there is an end to the cycle of abuse. It is a one-stop-shop for help and advice.

“Beware the biggest myth of all,” summed up Julia Hughes, Projects Coordinator for Thames Valley, “It was only a one off… Rarely is this true but the victim may not tell you the next time, or the next. For loved ones torn between supporting a victim and reporting the abuse, an anonymous call to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 could be the lifeline they need.”

For information on the myths and realities of domestic abuse, how to recognise the signs, how to seek help and advice and for local and national helplines, please visit www.speakouttoday.co.uk.

If domestic abuse is in progress, if you feel threatened, if you are in immediate danger, or it’s an emergency, call 999.

In a non-emergency, call 101, the Thames Valley Police 24-hour non-emergency number.

You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 to pass on information about crimes anonymously. Information can also be passed anonymously through the charity’s online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Or call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline: freephone 0808 2000 247.