West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership is urging victims of domestic abuse not to suffer in silence.
The message is being sent out during a busy summer of events ¬– including the Euro 2016 Football Championships which start on Friday, 10 June. Nationally there is an increase of 25%-30% in the reporting of domestic abuse during sporting tournaments, particularly football.
Domestic abuse can take many forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour, financial abuse and emotional or psychological abuse. Anyone who is forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused. Abuse can happen at any stage of a relationship and is very rarely a ‘one-off’.
Lancashire Police’s South Division (which covers Chorley, Preston, South Ribble and West Lancashire) received 6,299 Domestic Abuse Referrals between April 2015 – March 2016. Of these, 2,400 were then designated as domestic abuse crimes.
Between April 2015 and March 2016 The Liberty Centre (formerly Domestic Violence Support Services West Lancs), received 783 high and medium risk referrals from the ‘Lancashire Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub’ for support from the centre’s Independent Domestic Violence Advisors.
The Community Safety Partnership is supporting the new Lancashire Police campaign called ‘The Ugly Consequences of the Beautiful Game’. This encourages victims to come forward, reassure them their complaints will be handled with care and they will be given access to services they need to break free from abuse.
Councillor Kevin Wright, Portfolio Holder for Health and Community Safety, said: “Domestic abuse is much more common than most people realise and sadly, on average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before she makes her first call for help.
“Men can also be victims of domestic abuse and it’s often even more difficult for them to come forward. If you are reading this and think you are a victim of domestic abuse please talk to someone you trust. Or you can call the police, The Liberty Centre or the National Domestic Violence Helpline.”
David Tilleray, West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership chairman, added: “Domestic abuse is a crime. We want victims to know that they are not alone and if they approach those services that can help them their complaints will be handled with care by people sympathetic to what they are going through.”
West Lancashire Police Inspector June Chessell said: “Victims of domestic abuse and their children have the right to live safely in their own home. They should be reassured that the abuse is not their fault and that they are not alone.
“Domestic abuse can devastate families and relationships. We always take positive action when we are called to deal with domestic abuse incidents and we do all we can to arrest offenders and put them before the courts.”
The Liberty Centre helps victims in a number of ways. These include a free confidential 24 hour helpline number 0808 100 3062; practical and emotional support for all victims of domestic abuse; confidential counselling; legal advice and the Women’s Refuge for short term accommodation.
Eleanor Maddocks, Chief Executive of the Liberty Centre, said: “We want all victims to come forward. If they need support we will give it to them.
“There are many reasons why women may find it difficult to leave an abusive relationship. A woman may not know where to go or even believe it is better to stay for the sake of her children. If victims don’t know what to do they can phone us and get some advice.”
Later this year the West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership will be running a campaign to encourage people to contact the Liberty Centre or the Police for advice and assistance if they are aware that someone is a victim of Domestic Violence.
Help and support is also available through Lancashire Victims Service by calling 0300 323 0085.
The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge is 0808 2000 247.