THE term domestic abuse may still carry with it connotations of violence behind closed doors between a husband and wife. But it is important to recognise, as the police and support agencies in Dorset do, that domestic abuse is not limited to physical harm and can affect anyone.
The common factor of controlling and coercive behaviour is present in all forms of domestic abuse, which can be obvious or subtle and can happen suddenly or gradually. It can happen in couples, between younger and older members of the same family.
It can happen regardless of class, age, race, religion, culture, disability, sexual orientation or lifestyle.
Detective Superintendent Sarah Derbyshire, head of public protection for Dorset Police, said: “Domestic abuse can have many forms, either on their own or in combination. These could be physical, emotional, psychological or financial, all exerting a controlling influence over the victim. None of this is acceptable, nor should it be tolerated in our society.
“The harm, physical or psychological, caused to those affected by domestic abuse should not be underestimated. Dorset Police will take every report seriously. Working together with our partners we will help and support anyone needing to break free from an abusive relationship, and we will bring offenders to justice.”
Dorset Police last week released a new animated advisory about controlling and coercive behaviour on its social media channels Facebook and Twitter, which you can also watch below.
Information about where domestic abuse victims can get help will be printed on prescription bags, supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner, which will be distributed via 17 participating pharmacies in the county.
Martyn Underhill, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “Domestic abuse is a particularly hurtful and damaging offence.
“The restrictions on movement have been difficult for many of us, but victims of domestic abuse in particular may not have been able to access the help they need as easily during this time. For this reason I have provided funding to further raise awareness and encourage reporting by printing advice on pharmacy prescription bags.
“It is hugely important that people living in an abusive environment know that they are not alone, and that support services are ready to help. Hopefully this campaign will reach victims, particularly those who may not have access to the internet or who may sadly be too scared to search because their partner is controlling what they do online.”
People should feel confident to seek help if they recognise the signs of abuse or controlling behaviour, such as being denied access to other people and therefore isolated, or being financially controlled by having access to funds restricted. Controlling behaviour may escalate into more recognisable threats and even violence.
The decision to report a crime to the police isn’t always easy and domestic abuse victims might not want to or feel able to for lots of reasons. If you feel you can’t report domestic abuse to the police you can still get help and support to help you cope and recover. There are support organisations which cover Dorset.
For more support and advice, including how to contact support agencies, please visit www.dorset.police.uk/abuse-help