What would you do? Swindon and Wiltshire join forces for 16 Days of Action domestic abuse prevention campaign
The national campaign 16 Days of Action starts on 25 November and this year Wiltshire and Swindon wants to raise awareness of domestic abuse and to encourage people who know something isn't right, how they can help
You're at work and you're worried someone is turning up with bruises.
You've noticed your friend no longer joins you for drinks or your sports games.
You hear your neighbours shouting and worry that someone is getting hurt.
What would you do?
That's the question that Wiltshire and Swindon is asking this November as organisations join forces to once again highlight domestic abuse - and what people can do to help.
The national campaign 16 Days of Action starts on 25 November and this year Wiltshire and Swindon wants to raise awareness of domestic abuse and to encourage people who know something isn't right, how they can help.
Wiltshire Council, Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Police, Office of Police and Crime Commissioner and charities FearFree and Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service, Nelson Trust, and the hospitals in Swindon and Salisbury are all participating.
All involved will be running information on what to do if you are concerned that someone is suffering domestic abuse. There are also a number of events taking place during the 16 days.*
Charity FearFree has shared a recent case which shows how a friend helped a woman leave a domestic abuse situation safely after they met at English classes. Her friend contacted Fearfree and with support from the charity and Wiltshire Police she was able to leave and make a new life for herself.
Claire Marshall, CEO, FearFree said: "Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and this campaign aims to make sure that it's a battle that nobody must face alone. We're asking people to take a few minutes to learn how to recognise the signs of abuse and what actions they can take to support someone. Something as simple as letting a colleague know there are organisations that can help them could save a life."
Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling, Cabinet Member for Public Health at Wiltshire Council, said: "We all have a role to play in being there for people who are victims of domestic abuse. It can be difficult to know exactly what to do. You may feel awkward about asking or feel you're intruding. Ultimately the person who is suffering the abuse may need those words from you or that offer of help so they can take the next step. We are sharing some advice on how you can offer that help to take the first steps towards leaving abuse. We are a community and we need to support each other. People should not suffer in silence and they do not need to be alone."
Cllr Ray Ballman - Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Swindon Borough Council said: "Domestic abuse can impact anyone, at any time. It comes in many forms, including coercive and controlling behaviour, stalking, and financial abuse, which is all aimed at restricting someone's freedom. If you or someone you know needs support in Swindon, please do reach out. There are services ready to help and support you."
Detective Chief Inspector Gemma Vinton from Wiltshire Police said: "Domestic abuse is often hidden, and victims may feel they can't talk about it with colleagues, friends or family members, let alone report it to us or another organisation. Victims can understandably have complex feelings about the perpetrator or may worry about perceptions, or the practicalities of what will happen should they tell someone what is happening to them. Whatever the situation, I would urge everyone to be mindful of those around us and consider whether people may need help. Is someone struggling, dropping hints that things are not going well in their relationship, looking different, or speaking differently about things, perhaps reaching out to you for support? The police, and our partners, are here to help anyone who is a victim of domestic abuse. Please keep an eye on those who are close to us to spot the signs of domestic abuse and urge them to seek support."
Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson said: "Domestic abuse can take many forms including violence, coercive control and harassment and stalking. We know that many victims of domestic abuse continue to suffer in silence, and that the reports Wiltshire Police receive only represent a small part of the real picture. We all need to be more vigilant, step up and support those trapped, be that personally or professionally - and we mustn't shy away from asking the difficult questions. It's also important to stress that victims of domestic abuse are able to access specialist support, without having to report to the police, and if you're worried about a colleague, friend or loved one you are able to seek advice on their behalf. Supporting victims of domestic abuse in the time when they are most vulnerable and need help is a clear priority within my police and crime plan. We know we cannot eradicate crime completely so we must ensure the services we are funding are delivering for victims when they need it most."
People who are experiencing domestic abuse can contact:
Weekdays call Fearfree 01225 775276
Out of hours helpline 01225 712880.
Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service 24 Hour Helpline 01793 610610
In an emergency dial 999.