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Domestic abuse victims urged to come forward
AN EIGHT per cent rise in the reporting of domestic abuse in the past two years has been welcomed in Poole – as a campaign is launched urging more people to come forward.
The 130 incidents reported to police every month in Poole were described as the “tip of the iceberg” by Borough of Poole.
“We welcome the increase, we want people to come forward,” said Emma Leatherbarrow, strategy team manager.
Research carried out by the council, which sees combating domestic violence as a priority, revealed that levels of domestic abuse incidents have increased while domestic abuse crimes have gone down.
In 2010/11 there were 1,611 domestic abuse incidents reported to police and 1,666 in 2011/12.
However, the proportion of offences prosecuted in 2010/11 was 23.86 per cent and 23.53 per cent in 2011/12.
“It’s not necessarily something that affects only the poor and dispossessed, it affects affluent couples,” said Emma. “It’s all ages, all social classes.”
And not just physical abuse but psychological and financial and not only women – men are victims as well.
“We heard of a couple married for 50 years for whom abuse has been part of their relationship since the day they were married,” she said.
The council’s year-long scrutiny of the problem has revealed a new tyranny caused by modern communications.
“It shocked us that people particularly at risk are 17 to 25-year-olds,” said Cllr Karen Rampton, chairman of the domestic abuse overview and scrutiny working party.
The council has a £280,000 budget and services are provided by their partners, Bournemouth Churches Housing Association.
“We were really keen to find out what made them finally think after 10 or 20 years, that’s it, that’s enough. For the most part it was because of the children exhibiting signs of being a perpetrator or a victim,” said Cllr Rampton.
“We are urging people to report it to the police,” said Emma. “Until victims report the abuse they can’t get help.”
l To report domestic abuse, contact the Poole Outreach Service on 01202 710777 or the 24-hour helpline on 01202 748488.
Two women relying on the refuge
- WHEN Mary, 25, found her one-year-old daughter about to put a used bag of cocaine in her mouth she realised it was finally time to leave home.
Being head-butted twice by her drug addict husband the day before she was due to give birth had not made her flee.
But this time she left for good and arrived at the refuge distraught, with one suitcase and daughter Anna.
The refuge gave her the safety she longed for, support advice and guidance on housing and she now urges other women not to suffer in silence.
- JOANNA arrived at the refuge with multiple support needs, having been referred by social care. She had a long history of abusive relationships and complex issues surrounding her physical and mental health.
She had a three-year-old son who was in foster care and she was living in the UK illegally.
She is now living in supported lodgings, has contact with her son and her solicitor is working to secure leave to stay in the UK.
Always full up
Borough of Poole council leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson, above, commended the Daily Echo for getting behind a campaign she began in 1997/8 to highlight the problem of domestic abuse.
This resulted in one of the very few new-build refuges in the UK and one of very few that can cater for men as well as women.
“The Echo got behind our campaign,” she said. “And the refuge has been full ever since it opened.”