Somerset County Council is backing a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence in a bid to end it.
Sixteen Days of Action against domestic abuse started this week (Monday 25 November) and runs until Monday 16 December.
Working with partners, including health and police professionals, the Council wants to raise awareness of domestic abuse, its different forms and highlight local help available.
Domestic violence is violent, aggressive or emotional behaviour used to intimidate and control a person. It does not have to occur in the home, and it does not only concern partners. It could be mother to daughter, for example.
It also doesn’t have to be physical – emotional abuse is control of one person over another. The perpetrator takes away all decisions of the person, undermines their confidence and personal identity, which can lead to feelings of worthlessness.
As well as encouraging anyone experiencing domestic abuse to seek help, the campaign also encourages employers, friends and family to be vigilant and ‘look, listen, ask…ask again’ if they have concerns about someone they fear may be in an abusive relationship.
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council said: “Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and from every walk of life. The signs of domestic abuse are often difficult to spot, and it can take a whole range of physical and emotional forms. If you are worried about someone, remember that if something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t. Don’t ignore a gut feeling or the small signs but seek professional advice first before you try to help.”
Superintendent Deryck Rees, Avon and Somerset Police force lead for Domestic Abuse said: “Some of the things to look out for could be your friend being texted an inappropriate number of times by their partner when they aren’t together, sudden lack of contact from someone, or over-hearing abusive language from neighbours during an argument. We all have a responsibility to look out for the signs of someone being manipulated and abused.”
Donna Allender, Domestic Abuse Project Lead, NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Preventing and addressing domestic abuse is an integral part of an employer’s duty of care, effectively responding to notifications or information that a colleague or volunteer is involved in an incident or allegation regarding domestic violence or abuse is essential in fulfilling this statutory duty. Enabling managers with clear guidance on how to deal with disclosures directly opens employee access to a range of safety measures and meaningful specialist advice and support.”
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, are concerned about family or friends – or are an employer wanting to support staff – the Somerset Survivors website www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk has lots of useful information, advice and support including downloadable guides.
A confidential helpline is also available at 0800 69 49 999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If someone is in immediate danger, always call the police on 999.
Follow #16Days on Somerset County Council’s Twitter and Facebook throughout the campaign.