Domestic Violence: “Don’t delay, act today”

Crime / Wed 26th Nov 2014 at 11:18am

Domestic Violence
With Christmas a month away, Essex County Council, Essex Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex are urging victims not to carry on suffering and instead act now and seek help.

The campaign is also supported by public services across the county through the Essex Partnership.

Over 28,000 people reported an incident of domestic abuse in Essex last year, while it is estimated that less than half of all incidents are reported.

Victims often say that they decide against seeking help because of key events such as Christmas and birthdays.

Our message is clear ‘Don’t delay, act today’.

Domestic abuse survivor Hayley Lowles was almost killed following a horrific attack by her ex-partner Matthew Sargent, who is serving a minimum of 16 years in prison having been convicted of attempted murder in May 2014.

She said: “For every year that I wanted to leave or find help, there was always a reason to stay. Before you know it one year becomes two, two become three. When I think about it now I feel so silly.

“Matt was always on self-destruct around Christmas. He would wait until the last minute when I thought everything was perfect – I had bought his and his children’s Christmas presents, my family had bought for them all too – and then bang. He would go missing for one or two days, he would steal all of the food money or he would trash my home. I’d be thinking ‘Oh my God, I can’t let everyone down. His children will be so disappointed’. Not once did I think about myself. The same would happen on birthdays for everyone, too.

“My abuse was always emotional. It only got physical once, but as you can see from my court case that once was enough to cause me significant damage. It only takes once for you to be in the way or to say the wrong thing and the consequences could be fatal.”

She added: “I didn’t appreciate the help that was out there. I can even remember my midwife asking me if my relationship was a happy one and I lied to her. She would have helped me, not judged me and that’s what I needed to think instead of the negative thoughts that had started to take over.

“Remember that you have to love yourself for others to love you and respect yourself for people to respect you. You are worth more and one day, hopefully today, you will see that and take the first steps to getting help.

“I am now in a loving relationship. It’s amazing to wake up every morning and not worry about what today has in store but be excited at what you may experience.”

Cllr Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “People often hold things together over Christmas for the sake of their families, clinging to the hope that they can make things better and that the person they love will change. Sadly, all too often this is not the case and the abuse continues throughout Christmas and into the New Year.

“There is no need for people to go on suffering because help and support is available.”

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: “For many people Christmas is a period of celebration, where they can spend enjoyable time with their family and friends. However, sadly this is not the case for everyone, especially men and women who are experiencing domestic abuse.

“Every Christmas at Essex Police we see a rise in the number of domestic abuse incidents, which is often contributed to by the added pressure of family life over the festive period. As always, we are working especially hard to identify suspected perpetrators and will ensure that we deal thoroughly and robustly with anyone who breaks the law.

“There is so much help and support available to anyone experiencing domestic abuse whether they want to stay as safe as possible in the relationship or leave altogether. Our website essex.police.uk/standingtogether has a wide range of information about the support that Essex Police can provide, as well as details of lots of partner agencies and refuges working across the county.”

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “Christmas, for some, can be a very stressful time with financial and family pressures. Those pressures can often become the tipping point in a home where there is already domestic abuse, making the situation even more volatile and dangerous.

“I would urge anyone suffering abuse to get help and get it now. And whilst victims find the courage to report perpetrators and leave abusive environments we, as a society, must do all we can to protect and support victims, raise awareness and change attitudes to this abhorrent crime.”

The ‘Don’t delay, act today’ campaign will run until Monday 8th December and will see a different aspect of domestic abuse being highlighted each day such as domestic abuse and men, children, older people, the LGBT community and ethnic minorities. We will also be speaking with survivors and telling their stories.

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