Pictured L-R: Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson; Maureen Connolly Chief Executive at Birmingham & Solihull Women's Aid; Cllr Shafique Shah Cabinet Member for Inlusion & Community Safety; Cath Hannon Member of the West Midlands Strategic & Policing Crime Board.
Today Birmingham Community Safety Partnership launches its Spring domestic violence & abuse awareness raising campaign. The ‘This is domestic abuse’ campaign seeks to inform victims, their families and friends that coercive control is a form of domestic abuse and to raise awareness of the help available for victims.
The campaign is aimed at raising awareness of coercive control and its definition and helping women understand that a pattern of controlling or coercive behaviour is a form of domestic abuse under the Serious Crime Act 2015. The new offence closes a gap in the law around patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour in an ongoing relationship between intimate partners or family members. The offence carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a fine or both. The Government’s definition also includes honour based violence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
The posters (1 and 2) used in the campaign show behaviours and relationship characteristics that women may experience while being in a controlling relationship. It is hoped that this will help victims recognise what healthy relationships and love really look like, what is acceptable in relationships and seek help should they need to.
The campaign directs women to services who can provide support and assistance to victims themselves or their family and friends. Although women are the most likely victims of domestic abuse, there are also specialist services for men experiencing domestic abuse and for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans victims.
We want to empower victims and let them know about the confidential services and support available to them in Birmingham to meet all of the fears and concerns they may have, ranging from safety to practical issues.
The campaign will use a variety of media to raise awareness including advertising on pharmacy bags across the city (125 pharmacies), inside buses and trains, at station platforms, at supermarkets and within station toilets. There will also be promotion via social media outlets using #thisisdomesticabuse
Councillor Shafique Shah, Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety commented:
“As a City we are dedicated to protecting victims of domestic violence. Many women will not recognise coercive control in their own relationship as abuse and so it is vitally important that family and friends recognise their role in supporting victims. Working alongside the city’s support services we must work together at the victims pace to support her, be there for her and not judge her."
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson supporting the campaign said:
“This is an excellent campaign. Anything that empowers victims and helps them break out of the cycle of abuse gets 100% of my support. Tackling domestic abuse – in any form – is one of my main priorities as Police and Crime Commissioner and we must do whatever it takes to bring this hidden crime out of the shadows and tackle it head on.
“I hope this campaign helps victims realise it is never their fault and there is a support network out there to help them.”
As family and friends, you don’t need to be specialists to spot that something isn’t right. You don’t need to have all the answers but you can tell your friend/ relative that they’re not alone:
- 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence and abuse.
- She is NEVER to blame, no matter what her abuser says.
- Without help and intervention domestic abuse usually gets worse
- We can help her to make plans for protecting herself and her children
- The earlier she gets advice and support, the more options will be available to her
- Even if she isn’t usually entitled to any government financial support, we can advise her on how to be safe
Notes to editors
- For further information, contact Natasha Bhandal, on 0121 303 8727 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- For help and advice contact:
- National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline: 0808 2000 247
- Birmingham & Solihull Women’s Aid Freephone Helpline: 0808 800 0028
- Birmingham Gateway to domestic violence services: (0121) 675 4249
- Trident Reach Men’s Domestic Violence Service : 0800 111 4223
- Birmingham LGBT Domestic Violence Service: 0121 643 0821
- A full list of support services can be found on the Birmingham Community Safety Partnership website http://www.birminghamcsp.org.uk/our-work/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-support-services.php
- The Serious Crime Act 2015 (the 2015 Act) received royal assent on 3 March 2015. The Act creates a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships (section 76).
- How to help?
Look out for the signs of an abusive relationship - it isn’t always physical or sexual and emotional abuse can be just as damaging. Does your friend or relative seem frightened or intimidated by her partner, does her partner humiliate or belittle her? Do you find it difficult to see your friend or relative; do you feel that they are prevented from seeing you? Does her partner check up on her, text her frequently or call her lots of times throughout the day? There is a line between having a caring partner and a controlling one. Are you worried this line has been crossed? Let’s not forget that there may also be physical signs, bruises, extreme tiredness, depression, being overly emotional or withdrawn.
Don’t wait for your friend or relative to confide in you. When she is on her own, ask her about it.
Ending an abusive relationship isn’t easy and it will bring about lots of worries and uncertainty. Help manage those worries: be there for her. Knowing you understand will help her regain some of the lost confidence and ease her doubts and fear. Even if she isn’t ready to end the relationship, do not judge, do not allow your frustrations to show, go at her pace, be guided by her about what she is or isn’t ready to do.
You can provide practical help too. If she isn’t ready to end the relationship, help her keep herself and her children safe. Help her plan for their safety, for leaving in an emergency; where she could go, what she could take.
Be careful! If the abuser thinks she is getting help it could be risky for both of you. If it is safe, perhaps she could leave documents or copies with you such as ID, birth certificates, bank details as well as clothes, keys, money.
You don’t have to do it on your own. You can go to the agencies for advice on how to help her.