New Crimestoppers campaign is urging family, friends or neighbours in Suffolk to anonymously report domestic abuse concerns
Domestic abuse is about power, dominance and control over a victim who is often left feeling too scared or emotionally trapped to speak out.
Today a campaign is being launched in Suffolk urging people to report any concerns they have about friends, family or neighbours who they suspect are being physically, emotionally, psychologically or financially harmed by their partner.
Suffolk Constabulary and Lighthouse Women’s Aid have linked up with independent charity Crimestoppers to encourage those close to the victim or offender to anonymously come forward.
Antonia Litten, regional manager for Crimestoppers in Suffolk, said: “Domestic abuse is a serious crime but it remains largely hidden behind closed doors, leaving the victims trapped, powerless and isolated.
“We want more people to speak out if they know someone is being abused. We know it’s not always an easy thing to do but Crimestoppers offers the public the chance to give information anonymously.
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“We don’t take personal details and we don’t record calls. We can’t trace calls or information given online. Those who contact us don’t have to give a statement to police or go to court.”
Police across England and Wales are called every 30 seconds to attend domestic abuse related incidents, and last year Suffolk Constabulary responded to 3,449 calls relating to domestic abuse between April and December 2015.
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The one-year scheme has been funded by Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore.
He said: “Domestic abuse is an appalling and at times brutal crime and is never acceptable in any circumstance. I am very pleased to financially support this awareness campaign in a bid to draw attention to this appalling issue.
“One of the saddest facts is that victims can be abused many times before they seek help and we also know that the majority of domestic abuse incidents are not reported. This is something we really need to change.”
The role of Lighthouse, a charity based in Ipswich, will be to offer support to any victims of domestic abuse who are identified during the campaign.
Sally Winston, chief executive of Lighthouse, said: “It is often extremely hard for loved ones to support someone through the turmoil of the abusive cycle when that person is frightened or refuses to accept help.
“But we are here to support and empower victims of domestic abuse, by providing a safe environment, practical, and emotional support.”
Anyone can make an anonymous report about domestic abuse to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or by completing an online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
Life is ‘amazing’ for Suffolk mum who escaped violence
A survivor has told how she felt removed from reality during a three-year abusive relationship that resulted in her children being taken away from her.
Charlotte, who has been given this name to protect her real identity, is supporting the new Crimestoppers campaign and is encouraging victims of domestic abuse to speak out, even if it is to a friend or a family member.
When Charlotte, 24, met her former partner in August 2012, she said the pair both smoked a lot of cannabis which had an impact on her state of mind.
The couple had a daughter in 2013, and in 2014 they moved into a house together in Suffolk.
Describing her relationship with her former partner, Charlotte said: “Mentally and emotionally abusive, he isolated me from my family and my friends.
“If I had a friend I was speaking to he wouldn’t like it, or if I said something that I shouldn’t I would get shouted at or moaned at for it, an argument would start and that’s when the violence would come in. There was plenty of times where he tried to push me down the stairs, strangled me on three or four occasions, to the point where I thought I was going to die, and then it got worse as the years went on.”
Last year a neighbour reported to police that Charlotte had been pushed to the floor by her then-partner.
Officers came to investigate the report but Charlotte did not make a statement.
“As much as I knew what was going on it got to the point I didn’t realise the reality of life,” Charlotte said.
“I got myself in that rut where I couldn’t say anything, and I was scared if I did then what would happen to me or possibly my daughter?”
Later that year Charlotte fell pregnant with the couple’s second child, a son.
When the boy was six-months-old Charlotte said her partner was violent towards their son and “really hurt him”.
As a result in November both the children were taken away from the couple and put in the care of a family member.
The perpetrator was arrested but Charlotte did not make a statement at this time because she said she knew he would be returning home and she was afraid of what the consequences might be.
The relationship continued for around one month after the children were removed from their care, at which point Charlotte’s father intervened and told the man to leave his daughter’s home.
Charlotte added: “Obviously I loved him because he was the father of my children but I knew that I needed to get out of it, I just didn’t know how.
“When it was finally over it felt amazing, I had my life back, my family back, my friends back, and I was just able to do anything that I wanted to do without being questioned.”
Charlotte then fought to prove that she was capable of looking after her two children, now aged two and one, and last month they were returned to her care.
Now a full-time mother, Charlotte is taking part in two courses at Lighthouse Women’s Aid to help her cope with the abuse she endured and to regain her confidence.
And now she is speaking out about her story in a bid to encourage other victims to seek help.
“Speak to anyone you possibly can, even if you don’t want to report it yourself, speak to someone and ask them to do it for you so it’s not coming directly from you,” Charlotte said.
“Sometimes when it comes directly from the person you can face massive consequences, whereas if you get a friend or family member to do it they will report it to the right person and get you out safely.”