‘If home isn’t safe, we’re here to help’ is the message in a new countywide awareness campaign led by the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership.
Since the lockdown started on 23 March, reports of domestic abuse to police in the county have increased by 8%, while Hertfordshire’s Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy (IDVA) service has seen a 20% increase in referrals. The Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline saw increases in calls of 48% and 63% during April and May respectively.*
Sadly, it is likely that there will have been more people experiencing domestic abuse who have not reached out for help. This could be because they assumed support was not available or because they couldn’t, due to the abusive and the coercive and controlling behaviours of their perpetrators.
Organisations within the partnership have been using social media throughout the lockdown to raise awareness of their services. However now as the lockdown eases and more shops and services are opening to the public again, the partnership is launching a wider awareness campaign placing campaign posters on screens and noticeboards across the county. These will include supermarkets, pharmacies, surgeries, clinics, parish noticeboards and many other locations.
Jenny Coles, Chair of the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Executive Board, said: ‘Throughout lockdown Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire Constabulary and other partners across health and voluntary services have continued to respond to domestic abuse. We have adapted our services where necessary to make sure they are still available and we have continued to hold perpetrators to account for their actions.
‘We remain concerned that some people are not getting support because they believe it is not available or it’s too difficult to access. To those people our message is simple, if you are experiencing domestic abuse, support is still very much available for you and your family. Please, if you can, reach out. Pick up the phone and speak to our local services who can offer you help and support. If home isn’t safe, we’re here to help.’
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse in Hertfordshire, call Hertfordshire’s Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy service on 0300 790 6772 for advice, support and access to services. Information on services available can also be found at hertssunflower.org. In an emergency, always call 999. If you are afraid or unable to speak, call 999 from a mobile and press 5, 5.
*All figures are comparisons with the same periods last year (2019).