People experiencing domestic abuse urged to report incidents ahead of Valentine’s Day
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As Valentine’s Day approaches, officers are urging individuals experiencing domestic abuse to come forward to report any incidents to police.
Valentine’s Day this year will be different to others in many ways – as we continue to live with the restrictions of a national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, to those experiencing domestic abuse, Valentine’s Day will continue to be an unpredictable and frightening time.
Officers are reminding people that they are allowed to leave home if where they live is not safe.
Government coronavirus restrictions say you can leave home “to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm” including domestic abuse.
Staffordshire Police is continuing to work with community partners, including New Era Domestic Abuse Service for Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, following its #YouAreNotAlone campaign last year, to provide support to victims and offer rehabilitation pathways to perpetrators, when appropriate.
Chief Inspector Paul Cooke, force lead for domestic abuse, said: “Our message to victims of domestic abuse is please continue reporting these crimes to us.
“We will assist when you ask for help, and can take steps to ensure you’re safe.
“Our officers have powers to protect you, such as arresting the person who has caused harm and using bail conditions to stop them from contacting you, or your loved ones.
“Even with the covid restrictions, domestic abuse services are open and we are here for you.
“Do not worry about breaking restrictions to get away from abusers, you will be supported and protected.”
Officers are also encouraging family, friends and neighbours to look out for each other throughout February as the lockdown continues.
“Please look out for your friends, neighbours and family members” Chief Inspector Cooke added, “as many people don’t always realise the different forms that abuse can take.”
Domestic abuse isn’t just violence - it can be a pattern of controlling, threatening and coercive behaviour, which can be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual.
It can be committed anywhere, including online and often involves and seriously affects children.
“Love is not abuse,” Chief Inspector Cooke said.
Chantelle Thompson, New Era’s head of service, said: “We know from the work we’re doing to support local people how the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing added emotional and financial pressures for many couples and families, especially with so many people forced to spend more time at home than usual, often cut off from normal support networks.
“Being in an unhealthy or abusive relationship can be a very isolating and frightening experience, especially at this time of the year, when people often feel under pressure to behave in a certain way and sometimes do things they might not want to.
"We want to reassure everyone that specialist support services like ours are still available – whether you’re experiencing domestic abuse or worried about someone who might be, or if you want support to change your abusive behaviour.”
Anyone who has concerns relating to domestic abuse is advised to contact New Era’s Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent 24-hour confidential helpline on 0300 303 3778 or access their 24/7 live chat facility at www.new-era.uk.
Perpetrators can also get help from New Era Domestic Abuse Service by calling 01785 601690.
Alternatively, contact Staffordshire Police on Facebook and Twitter, call 999 in an emergency or visit www.staffordshire.police.uk/domesticabuse.