Domestic abuse victims are most likely to call on friends and family for help, says new survey

VICTIMS of domestic abuse are most likely to confide in friends first not the police, so it’s vital the friends know where to get help from, says Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness.

According to a recent anonymous survivor survey carried out by Wearside Women in Need (WWIN), 37 per cent of victims disclosed to a friend first and 25 per cent told a family member to begin with. 11 per cent contacted the police in the first instance.

The survey helped inform a recent campaign devised by the Police and Crime Commissioner with the support of specialist services across the region. The idea behind the campaign was to reach out to those concerned about loved ones and to provide advice and contact information that can be passed on.

The campaign has built on the idea that domestic abuse is everyone’s business and that we all have a role to play in taking our concerns seriously and not making excuses for unacceptable behaviour such as blaming stress or alcohol for causing violence and abuse.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “It’s such a big step finding the courage to open up about being abused. So whoever a victim chooses to confide in, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that we seize that moment, especially right now with more victims being allowed out of the house as they’re perhaps doing the school run or returning to work. Whoever they tell needs to know where to turn for specialist support.

“Almost two-thirds of people reach out to friends and family first – it’s these people who need to have information on what to do. They have a vital role to play in bridging the gap to specialist services. That’s why last month we launched a campaign which set out how we can all help those suffering domestic abuse. We’re not asking the general public to be experts here, of course not, but these people are the gate keepers. Their response is very important and can guide a victim to the right services and change their life for the better.”

She added: “We have specialist officers trained in domestic abuse who are great too, but what I’m saying here is that if someone isn’t comfortable with the idea of going to the police we get that, we really do, but there are other ways. We just want support to get to those who need it as quickly and as easily as possible, however that may be.”

Becky Rogerson MBE, Director at Wearside Women in Need, said: “This campaign acknowledges the important role that family, friends and work colleagues play in supporting people in abusive relationships; they are frequently the first people who spot the signs, receive the disclosure and have the opportunity to seek help. We want to ensure everyone knows what to do, who to call and how to make a difference. At least 2 women a week lose their lives to violent partners – we can all make a difference to that shocking statistic if we ‘Ask and Act’, our services are open and can help you”.

The VAWG survey, produced by WWIN outlines many of the ways in which the pandemic reinforces inequality and increases the incidents of domestic abuse and the impact on victims.

For campaign information and a list of support services visit here.

In an emergency, always call 999. If you dial 999 and are unable to speak, the emergency operator will ask you to dial 55 and to follow their instruction to quickly put you in touch with police.