|Don’t suffer in silence
A number of awareness-raising activities are taking place this week to encourage victims of domestic abuse to speak out.
Working together, Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Police will be visiting local hospitals, schools and Wigan Youth Zone to help residents recognise and report abuse.
At present there is no specific offence of domestic abuse as defined by criminal law. Instead offenders are prosecuted for crimes such as rape or assault. However, a bill, proposed by Welsh MP Elfyn Llwdyd and due to be presented in the House of Commons shortly would, if passed, criminalise all aspects of domestic violence and carry a sentence of up to 14 years – giving victims greater confidence in the prosecution process.
The new bill would, for the first time, ensure sentences reflect whether the domestic abuse, both physical and psychological, was part of a pattern of behaviour.
In the last twelve months there has been a one per cent* increase in the number of domestic abuse cases in Wigan Borough.
Councillor Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for safer communities at Wigan Council, said:
“While worrying, the increase in the number of incidents reported is encouraging. The figures show that our aim to encourage more victims to speak out and get help is working so this is positive news.
“Research shows that growing up in an abusive home can have a serious impact on the way that a child behaves in the future. That’s why our approach is preventative – we need to ensure that children know what domestic abuse is from the start, to understand what a healthy relationship looks like and to speak out if there’s something wrong.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Vanessa Jardine, Head of the Public Protection Division said: “Tackling domestic violence is a priority for GMP all year round but this week of action allows us to highlight the work taking place with our partners to eradicate the region of these terrible crimes.
“Victims of domestic abuse and serious sexual assaults are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and we will be targeting known and persistent offenders throughout the week, utilising a range of powers in order to bring these people to justice and protect their victims.
“Over the last year we’ve seen an increase in the number of people coming forward to tell us about their suffering but we’d like more victims to have the confidence to seek help and put a stop to the vicious circle of domestic abuse they often find themselves in.”
If you’re suffering in silence, speak out. Call Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse helpline on: 0161 636 7525. In an emergency call 999 or 101 in a non-emergency.