Abuse victims urged to fight fears

VICTIMS of domestic violence in Ipswich are today being encouraged to fight their fears this Christmas and report their abuser.For many the festive season is all about spending quality time with family and friends, yet statistics show that people already in abusive relationships are likely to suffer more at this time of year.

VICTIMS of domestic violence in Ipswich are today being encouraged to fight their fears this Christmas and report their abuser.

For many the festive season is all about spending quality time with family and friends, yet statistics show that people already in abusive relationships are likely to suffer more at this time of year.

Since the launch of the Ipswich Specialist domestic violence court, based at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, in April, the vast majority of cases have had a successful conclusion, resulting in a guilty plea and/or conviction.

Latest figures from the Crown Prosecution Service, revealed exclusively to The Evening Star, show that between April and June, 90 per cent of the 40 cases-all from Ipswich and the surrounding areas- were dealt with successfully.

Of the 66 cases heard between July and September, 86 per cent ended with a conviction.

Figures show there has been an increase in the numbers of domestic violence cases in the courts, from an average of 62 incidents a month in Suffolk for 2005/06 to 67 in 2006/07.

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The CPS believed the increase in cases could be due to people having more confidence in the justice system rather than more incidents taking place.

Paula Abrahams, chief crown prosecutor for CPS Suffolk, said: “On a national basis CPS has seen an increase in the number of domestic violence cases prosecuted by 15.2 per cent, which shows victims have more confidence in the Criminal Justice System. In Suffolk we have also seen an increase in the number of cases and an improved conviction rate.

“The increased conviction rate in Suffolk domestic violence cases can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of all at the CPS. Through their work we are re-enforcing the message to abusers that bringing perpetrators to justice is a priority for CPS Suffolk.”

Marianne Fellowes, team manager of Suffolk County Council's domestic violence and abuse projects, said: “Although alcohol is no excuse for emotional, financial, physical or sexual abuse, it can significantly heighten tensions particularly during the festive period.

“In Suffolk alcohol is a factor in more than 60 per cent of domestic violence incidents. This is why we have joined-up with Suffolk Constabulary to encourage victims to report incidents of domestic violence as part of the police's Christmas 'Staysafe' campaign and we have launched a poster campaign specifically focusing on the link with alcohol.”

Are you a victim of domestic violence? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

CHRYSTAL (not her real name), now 25 years old, was three months pregnant and looking forward to Christmas and a new start for her and her partner, Malo.

Suffolk County Council's domestic violence and abuse projects team supported Chrystal in January 2006 and said she is happy for her story to be shared to inspire others.

Chrystal said: “Although Malo was annoyed at first, he came round to the idea that he was going to be a dad. “I thought it would help solve the problems we were having, bring us closer together, and show that I loved only him and wanted to settle down.

“He was always so jealous and controlling, wanting me to be home, not go out with the girls. On Christmas Day he was so stressed, and after drinking nearly all afternoon was in a right strop in the evening. He started moaning about how next year it would all be different. He was saying we couldn't go out, wouldn't have any money, no friends, and that it was my fault that I had got pregnant.

“He pushed me down on to the sofa and started to shout in my face calling me a tramp and saying that it probably wasn't his. I was really upset and crying and asking him to stop and then he punched me. It was like slow motion, I couldn't believe what had happened - and on Christmas Day. I struggled to get up and somehow ended up on the floor, and he kicked me.

“That week was a nightmare, he was home from work and I couldn't leave the house to get help or phone my family or friends without him knowing. He even went with me to get food shopping. I just prayed for the day he went back to work.

“Looking back I don't think he meant to kick me in the stomach but, well, I lost the baby. That was two years ago and we're not together anymore, but I still dread Christmas Day, and the memories of how we lived still haunt me”.

One in four women and one in six men will suffer domestic violence at some point in their life.

In Suffolk more than 50 per cent of incidents are committed in a home where children normally live or visit.

Out of a total 802 cases heard in courts across Suffolk for 2006/07, more than 76 per cent of them have had a successful conclusion.

Nationally there were 57,361 domestic violence cases this year.

To report an incident of domestic violence, call the police on 01473 613500 (or 999 in an emergency). The national helpline for victims is 0802 2000247 and the Suffolk helpline is 0800 7835121. To contact Police Victim Care Centres call 01473 613500 or in an emergency dial 999.

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