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Emma Bennett writes a simple call to action for the people of Leeds: be aware, train yourself up and keep your eyes open for domestic violence and abuse.
When I moved to Leeds last year, I saw the city as a haven of diversity and forward thinkers. I wanted a fresh new place after surrendering two years of my life - firstly as a victim of emotional and psychological abuse, and later recovering from mental ill-health caused primarily by said abuse. My opinion is yet to be changed about Leeds – the multiple languages, great food, local charities and passionate communities have helped me to reclaim my life and I’m now a very happy, healthy person. However, it has brought me great sadness to learn there have been 17 deaths in our city over the past three years due to domestic violence and abuse, and almost 15,000 recorded incidents. I wouldn’t like to estimate how many abusive acts were not recorded.
It’s not a shock to any one of us that domestic violence happens. It’s not a secret and I don’t think anyone is pretending it’s not there. However, with sexual, psychological or financial abuse, it’s often a hidden horror. Domestic Violence Statistics from 2013 states that "Victims of domestic violence are less likely than victims of other forms of violence to report their experiences to the authorities”; and the first chapter of the report is titled: ‘Difficulties in measuring domestic violence’. Now, if Parliament struggles to measure and monitor it, how are we expected to do anything?
The message that came from the YEP Summit was that we have to keep our eyes open for domestic violence cases. As described by Supt. Sam Miller in an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post “All our victims are generally employed by someone. All our perpetrators work somewhere” which is an accurate but haunting statement. It is our job - as colleagues, managers, volunteers, trainers, supervisors, even former victims – to be proactive in making ourselves aware of sufferers in our environment.
If someone is experiencing any kind of abuse at home, there may be indicators of this in their workplace behaviour:
- Excessive lateness or unexplained absences
- Frequent use of ‘sick time’
- Unexplained injuries or bruising
- Changes in appearance
- Lack of concentration/often preoccupied
- Disruptive phone calls or personal visits from their partner
- Drops in productivity
- Sensitivity about home life or hints of trouble at home
In my opinion, everyone should try to improve their domestic violence awareness in hope they will never have to use the knowledge they acquire. A friendly face in the workplace may be the lifeline a victim needs. This is a simple call to action; please use your safeguarding knowledge, please read up on the issues and please keep your eyes open.
Domestic Violence Support Services in Leeds
Leeds Domestic Violence Services (LDVS)
A group of services comprising of Leeds Women’s Aid, HALT, Behind Closed Doors & Stonham Refuge. Call 24hr Helpline 0113 246 0401 for support or information.
Support After Rape and Sexual Violence (SARSVL)
SARSVL supports women and girls who have been affected by rape or sexual violence, by text, telephone and email. Call free: 0808 802 3344 www.supportafterrapeleeds.org.uk
West Yorkshire Police Safeguarding Unit
West Yorkshire Police have specially trained officers who can provide support and practical assistance to those who suffer domestic abuse. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s Health Matters
A charity created by women for women, with domestic violence education and support groups. For information, call 0113 276 2851. http://www.womenshealthmatters.org.uk/
White Ribbon Campaign
Men working to end violence against women. Support for male victims, perpetrators & campaigners. http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/
Thanks to TUC Women’s Forum for their extensive West Yorkshire services directory, the 2014 edition can be found here: http://bit.ly/1dPhyKy. More information about the Yorkshire Evening Post Summit can be found here: http://bit.ly/1EyMQxO
Emma Bennett works for an elearning company in Ilkley, High Speed Training, who provide CPD accredited online courses in a variety of Safeguarding topics. Emma is a volunteer coordinator and trustee for CLASSS and former volunteer administrator and researcher for Young Lives Leeds and Voluntary Action Leeds.
@emm_benn 01943 811429