Doncaster Council and partners are urging people to recognise the importance of healthy relationships this Valentine’s Day.
February 14 is traditionally a day where people share their feelings of love and affection.
However, domestic abuse is a problem often hidden behind closed doors and people don’t recognise abusive behaviour.
If a partner or family member dominates, controls, insults and verbally abuses, this is domestic or relationship abuse.
It isn’t simply physical abuse although that is certainly one aspect of abusive behaviour - in many cases violence isn’t used.
In a healthy relationship each partner feels valued, loved and respected, and should never feel afraid, or be coerced or bullied into doing something they don’t want to do.
Some of the early signs of abusive behaviour are excessive jealousy, possessiveness and verbal abuse.
This emotional and psychological abuse very often escalates into physical abuse.
There’s a healthy relationship checklist at www.doncasterdomesticabuse.co.uk
Bob Sanderson, Strategic Lead for Domestic Abuse at Doncaster Council said “We understand how hard it is for people to talk about things that are not right in their relationship, and after all, this is someone they love.
“There might be difficult financial situations, lack of confidence to leave the situation or fear. But there is support available for anyone suffering from abuse, and you don’t have to put up with it.”
December 2013 saw the introduction of a new free domestic abuse helpline in Doncaster, 0800 4701 505, as well as partners coming together to provide more focused services around community support, dispersed housing, a refuge and dedicated domestic abuse case workers. All these services are available to men as well as women; as many as 1 in 6 victims of domestic abuse are male.
Mr Sanderson said “We are seeing a very positive response to the new services here in Doncaster and would encourage anyone to come forward and talk to us in confidence about the support that is available.”
St Leger Homes, the organisation which manages around 21,000 homes on behalf of Doncaster Council, is also working to reduce domestic abuse.
St Leger Homes run a very successful ‘Sanctuary’ scheme, which provides victims of domestic abuse with enhanced security, allowing them to remain in their homes. They also fund an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate, who works alongside victims to help them access practical support, when faced with abuse, as well as providing essential housing for victims fleeing from abuse.
Susan Jordan, Chief Executive of St. Leger Homes, said: “Our front line staff are all fully trained to work with people who may be in an abusive relationship. We want people to come forward and talk to us, and access help, so we can remove the stigma from talking about domestic abuse.”
Coun Joe Blackham, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Trading Services said “We want people to understand that domestic abuse at any level is not acceptable. We are pleased to see increasing reports to the police of domestic abuse across the Borough as it has traditionally been under-reported, and if people come forward and either phone the helpline or the police, they can get help quickly. ”
Coun Blackham added “We know that anyone of any age, gender and walk of life can be affected by domestic abuse and it has a serious impact on children who witness it. This is all about encouraging people to get help much earlier so that they can get the support to change things. It’s never acceptable behaviour, and we are working together to make Doncaster a safe place for everyone to live.”