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Domestic Abuse is not just physical

Police in Devon launch new campaign

Devon and Cornwall Police is launching a new campaign to raise awareness of the control element of domestic abuse. 

They want people to understand that whatever the type of abuse - physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial - the abuser is trying to control the victim. 

Domestic abuse survivor, Rachaele, describes her experience: “I entered into a relationship aged nineteen, which lasted for ten years. Throughout that decade I was subjected to emotional, physical and sexual abuse and my children grew up thinking abusive behaviour was normal. We were totally controlled. I was unable to make decisions on my own; I even lost the ability to choose what we would eat for dinner.  

My partner accumulated debts and took out loans in my name, leaving me tens of thousands of pounds in debt.  I lived in fear of retribution if I tried to end the relationship. Abuse can take many forms and it can happen slowly so you don’t even see it happening.

“I was able to escape the relationship and, with extensive help, have been able to re-build my life and those of my children.  I urge anyone in an abusive relationship to seek help and support.”

Detective Superintendent Sharon Donald of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “Domestic abuse is about one person having power and control over another. Abusers can be very subtle, clever and manipulative.  They can use intimidation, coercion, threats, blackmail and other tools to control their victims. Abuse isn’t just physical.

“We hope this campaign will encourage people to come forward if they are in an abusive relationship and seek help either from police or one of our partner agencies.  We do understand that people don’t always want to approach police in the first instance. 

“The important thing to us is that people recognise abuse and that they feel supported to take steps to get out of an abusive relationship.”

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner, added “Evidence shows that early intervention gives police and other agencies the chance to act or provide support before a situation escalates and serious harm is caused.

“It’s important to remember that domestic abuse can take many forms and affect people from all walks of life. It’s not confined to gender, also emotional as well as physical harm is classified as domestic offending.

“Fortunately the misconception that police do not want to help or are less than keen to intervene or help is now well and truly a thing of the past. Here in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly specialist officers are available who can deal with complaints sensitively and effectively.

“The support available for victims has also improved hugely in recent years. My office commissions the Victim Care Unit, which co-ordinated victims’ services in Devon and Cornwall. It can direct victims of domestic abuse to a multitude of services.” 

The campaign's been launched for the Christmas and New Year period - when there's an increase in the reporting of cases. 

For help and advice about domestic abuse visit: www.domesticabusehelp.co.uk.

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