I wanted to write to you about domestic abuse. Fortunately, I have never been a victim of domestic abuse, but I know all too well just how devastating it can be for victims. During my time as Police and Crime Commissioner, I have met many people who have escaped abusive relationships and I know the utter trauma they have experienced. But the trauma does not just stop with the victim. Abusive relationships can seriously harm children and young people within a family unit, and this harm can last long after the abuse has stopped, and well into their adult lives. Of course, every child responds differently, but witnessing domestic abuse can lead to cognitive, behavioural and emotional issues.
It’s really important to stress that domestic abuse isn’t just violent or threatening behaviour. It can be psychological, emotional, sexual, financial, controlling or coercive. Anyone could find themselves in an abusive relationship and no matter what form it takes, it can be equally as damaging.
No one should ever be made to feel unsafe in their own home by the very person that should love and care for them. But it is happening all too often – in Wiltshire last year, we received more calls relating to domestic disputes than any other incident.
My reason for writing to you is to stress that help is available. Although it may seem impossible to escape the clutches of an abusive partner, especially when children are involved, finances are low and there are bills to pay, support is available and we can help you make a positive change.
Time and time again, our officers are being told by victims of domestic abuse that they are unaware of the help available and if they had known their partner had a history of violence, they would have left sooner. The Domestic Abuse Disclosure Scheme – known as Clare’s Law, enables you to do exactly this. Under Clare’s Law, you can make enquiries about a partner, or the partner of a close friend or family member whose behaviour may be causing concern.
A total of 299 people contacted us in 2018 requesting information about an abusive partner. You have a right to ask and a right to know – if you have concerns about your partner, or the partner of someone you know, please consider this scheme. It enables you to make a more informed decision on whether to continue a relationship. For more information visit www.wiltshire.police.uk
We are fully committed to protecting victims and we continuously look at how services we provide to both victims and witnesses can be improved. I’m pleased to be able to commission a number of valuable support services across the county to protect domestic abuse victims and survivors, and by bringing police, local authorities, health professionals and domestic abuse support services together to share information, identify risks and co-ordinate responses, I hope many more victims will feel empowered to get help.