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Essex Police criticised over ‘irresponsible’ domestic abuse Facebook post

PUBLISHED: 14:34 15 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:31 15 December 2017

Screenshot from the 'Sheila' case study video for the 55+ Safety Net initiative

Screenshot from the 'Sheila' case study video for the 55+ Safety Net initiative

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Essex Police has apologised for a social media post that appeared to support domestic abuse victims staying with their partners.

Essex Police has apologised for a social media post that appeared to advocate domestic abuse victims staying with their partners.

The force has faced fierce backlash for the status from the public, as well as celebrity food blogger Jack Monroe and Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid.

The Facebook post featured a case study about 65-year-old “Sheila” as part of a campaign backed by Essex Police that aims to help older victims of domestic abuse.

“She knew that the abuse in her relationship was wrong but also knew that she wouldn’t leave,” it said.

“With help and support from specialist organisations and agencies, Sheila and her husband stayed together, but safely.”

Social media users reacted with disgust, with some threatening to make a formal complaint against the force.

Monroe, who hails from Southend-on-Sea, wrote on Twitter: “Wow, Essex Police. I just ... have no words for what an irresponsible, silencing, diminishing campaign this is. Basically telling women to ‘put up and shut up’ re domestic abuse. In 2017. This is absurd.”

Ms Ghose said: “We are pleased that Essex Police Force is running a campaign to make older women aware of the support available to them. We are however extremely concerned by their message that a woman can safely stay in a relationship that is or has been controlling and abusive. For on average two women a week in England and Wales, their partner or ex-partner will seize the ultimate control and take their lives.”

Jack Monroe, far right, has denounced the campaign. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Jack Monroe, far right, has denounced the campaign. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Essex Police has since apologised for the “clumsy” language of the post.

A spokesman said: “Our message in this campaign isn’t ‘stay in any relationship no matter how abusive’.

“It’s ‘if something is happening in your relationship even if you’ve been with someone for decades there is help you can get’.”

The 55+ Safety Net initiative was launched by the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board.

Its chairman, Dick Madden, said the campaign featured seven scenarios based on real life experiences.

“Not all domestic abuse cases are the same, and not all victims will want to leave or consider reporting to the police,” he added.

“Through this particular scenario, we are aiming to reach out to this audience and give them information about the support available, whatever their circumstances.”

Sally Winston, chief executive of Suffolk charity Lighthouse Women’s Aid, said: “Domestic abuse is a tremendously complex issue and the important message to be taken from any awareness campaign is to encourage victims to access specialist domestic abuse services which can provide support relevant to their individual needs and circumstances.”

What do you think of the post? Share your comments below.

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