Campaign highlights that help is available for victims of domestic abuse
Stencils raising awareness of the support available for victims of Domestic Abuse have been appearing in public places across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse.
South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are working with local charity Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse to highlight the issue. They have stencilled messages in district council car parks as part of the ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’, an annual international campaign which began on 25 November with White Ribbon Day – the International day for the elimination of violence against women, and ends on 10 December with Human Rights Day.
The stencils ask one of three questions:
- Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells?
- Are you afraid of your partner?
- Are you worried about someone you know being controlled?
and also include the Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Service’s Helpline number 0800 731 0055 (Mon-Fri 10-6 Sat 10-4) and Reducing the Risk’s website reducingtherisk.org.uk, where people can go to find help and advice.
According to the Office for National Statistics, almost one in three women aged 16 – 59 will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales alone, and one in six men will suffer domestic abuse at some time in their lives.
The councils also have several other schemes and projects that helps residents’ safety and ensures they have access to support should they need it, including Ask for Angela, Safe Places and ‘Safe Journey, Safe Destination’.
Cllr Helen Pighills, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Domestic abuse can be terrifying for those who experience it. Not just violence but also verbal bullying and coercive control which can often happen out of sight from others. It’s very important that victims and their loved ones know that help is available and are aware of how to get support”
Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers, Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Far too many lives are seriously affected by domestic abuse in this country with victims often left feeling helpless. We hope that this campaign will encourage people to talk about the issue and its impact on families and will encourage victims to come forward for help and support.”
Romy Briant MBE, Chair of Reducing the Risk, said: “’The numbers of adults and children in our community who are significantly at risk through domestic abuse increased significantly through the pandemic; but we have been able to work together across the community to provide support for safety and wellbeing. It is so important that victims who are still trapped in abusive homes know that whether they look at our website, ring the helpline, or simply talk to someone from any service they use – they will find help they can trust.”
Notes for editors
All messages will be stencilled in washable chalk spray paint, with permission from South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils.
The latest national statistics from March 2020 show:
- an estimated 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in from April 2019 to March 2020 (1.6 million women and 757,000 men)
- the police recorded 758,941 domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales
Available data sources also show that during the coronavirus pandemic:
- there was a 7% increase in police recorded offences flagged as domestic abuse-related between March and June 2020, compared with the same period in the previous year; however, there has been a gradual increase in these offences over recent years, therefore it cannot be determined whether this can be directly attributed to the coronavirus pandemic
- there was generally an increase in demand for domestic abuse victim support services, including a 65% increase in calls and contacts logged by the National Domestic Abuse Helpline between April and June 2020, compared with the first three months of the year
- increases in demand for domestic abuse support were particularly noticeable following the easing of lockdown measures in mid-May, such as a 12% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases handled by Victim Support in the week lockdown restrictions were eased, compared to the previous week; this reflects the difficulties victims faced in safely seeking support during the lockdown
- increases in demand for domestic abuse victim services do not necessarily indicate an increase in the number of victims, but perhaps an increase in the severity of abuse being experienced, and a lack of available coping mechanisms such as the ability to leave the home to escape the abuse, or attend counselling
For more information please see the Office for National Statistics website.
More about how the district councils support people’s safety:
Ask for Angela – people who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened can discreetly seek help by approaching staff in venues across the district and asking them for ‘Angela’.
Safe Places – anyone who feels vulnerable or distressed can easily identify a safe place by the recognisable logo, and seek safety and assistance.
‘Safe Journey, Safe Destination’ – Vale of White Horse District Council is working with Oxford City on a project to reduce the risk of violence against women and girls at the start and end of their journey on a night out.
The councils are also working with licensed premises to provide resources for staff to raise awareness of women’s safety including needle and drink spiking.