Improving domestic abuse 'life-line' at Swindon conference
One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives.
Those are just two of the many statistics and facts revealed at a Domestic Abuse Conference held in Swindon last week, organised by the High Sheriff of Wiltshire Nicky Alberry, which I had the pleasure of supporting.
Trying to stop domestic abuse once and for all by improving help for victims and working with the perpetrators was the key aim of the meeting of delegates from county-wide agencies who are involved in protecting and supporting men and women who suffer with mental and physical domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse isn't just about violent or threatening behaviour - it can be psychological or emotional, sexual or financial, controlling and coercive. It can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, religion, race or sexuality. It can happen in short and long term relationships and partners, ex-partners and family members can all be involved.
Last week's conference was a wonderful opportunity for those decision makers - the agencies involved in protecting and helping victims of domestic abuse - to get together to share how best we can protect those who suffer abuse in relationships, whatever that relationship is.
It was heartening to witness the level of collaboration focused on protecting victims and how we all can keep improving those services to those men and women. A good example is the excellent work of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) based in GP practices and at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon. The idea of IDVAs originated from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
This blog is timely as I write this today (21/01) a draft domestic abuse bill is being put before MPs in Parliament. A serious issue like this requires government legislative intervention to help a wider culture change around domestic abuse, provide all possible protection, and support and strengthen the justice system's response to it. I am hopeful that the draft domestic abuse bill will bring about such changes once it becomes law.
Anything to support our aims of putting victims at the heart of Wiltshire Police's work - a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan and in my commissioning of valuable support services across the county to protect domestic abuse victims and survivors - is welcome.
Domestic abuse is everyone's business - if it's happening to you or someone you know, report it as soon as you can by calling 101 or if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999. We understand that victims of domestic abuse will often feel scared to report it but the abuse often gets worse over time.