Domestic violence: culture change needed

SUFFOLK needs a culture change in how it approaches the issue of domestic violence in the wake of the murder of tragic tot Luigi Askew, a charity worker said today.

SUFFOLK needs a culture change in how it approaches the issue of domestic violence in the wake of the murder of tragic tot Luigi Askew, a charity worker said today.

The four-week-old baby's death and abuse against his young mother was a reminder of the dangers women faced from abusive partners, according to Ipswich Women's Aid.

The charity, which runs two refuges for victims of domestic violence in the town, has called for a greater understanding about the incidence of abuse against partners, predominantly women.

Hilary Cadman, chief executive of Ipswich Women's Aid, said: “We need a whole culture change to ensure that women properly understand what they're going through and realise they are not alone and that there are organisations to help.

“It's very difficult when women don't know much about domestic violence and that this is what it can lead to. It does happen - two women are killed every week in England.”

Little Luigi was killed by his father Duncan Mills on May 26 last year.

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Mills, a former rapper from London Road, Ipswich, is due to be sentenced on June 6 after being found guilty earlier this month after a trial at Ipswich Crown Court. He faces a mandatory life sentence.

Luigi's mother, Samantha Askew, of Lanercost Way, Ipswich, was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Mills. Before Luigi's death she had attended Ipswich Hospital a number of times with injuries he inflicted upon her.

On the day Mills killed his baby son he also battered Miss Askew, now 23, causing her grievous bodily harm, including giving her the ultimatum that he would throw her off the landing of her home if she did not jump herself.

The baby's death prompted a review by the Suffolk Safeguarding Children Board and resulted in 33 recommendations to a host of agencies responsible for the care of children.

Today Mrs Cadman said domestic violence needed an approach similar to that which had led to drink driving become a major public taboo.

She said: “When domestic violence first starts it starts with a small thing and women think that it's their fault and try to do everything they can to address that issue but of course domestic violence isn't straight forward.

“From the minute you appease in one area he will pick on another area because it's about control and it arises out of insecurity.

“Very often women don't recognise that it is domestic violence when it first starts. They often don't have an income of their own and so are reliant on him to bring in an income and provide a home.

“But it's not easy, people don't want to be on their own.”

Are you a victim of domestic violence? Tell your story - anonymously if necessary - by calling The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324799 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

Ipswich Women's Aid offers a total of 23 bedrooms for women in need in its refuges as well as other services and operates its own 24-hour helpline and co-runs the Suffolk Domestic Violence Helpline.

About 480 women called the Ipswich Women's Aid helpline between April 1 last year and the end of January this year. About 500 called the Suffolk Domestic Violence helpline between January and December last year.

Victims of domestic violence can call the Ipswich Women's Aid helpline on 01473 745111 or Suffolk Domestic Violence helpline 0800 7835121.