NEARLY one in five Essex murder victims will have suffered domestic abuse in the run-up to their deaths, new figures reveal.

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The statistics, released as part of a major county crackdown on domestic abuse, show violence at home has been linked to around two out of every five rapes.

Essex Police has joined forces with the county council to call on family and friends of abuse victims to speak out.

Detective Chief Inspector Denise Morrissey, who has won a police bravery award for her work supporting domestic abuse victims, said: “Domestic abuse comes in many forms and is a crime which often takes place behind closed doors.

“Children, family members, friends and work colleagues all have a part to play in recognising the first indicators of the hidden problem.

“The victims of such crimes need support – support from their friends and family members.

“This way, through the provision of such support and through close working between partners across schools, health and social care we will have achieved that vital exchange of information which forms the bedrock of keeping people safe.”

The crackdown has been launched to coincide with Domestic Abuse Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday.

Peter Martin, leader of Essex County Council, said: “We know that victims often suffer in silence for a long time before they feel able to seek support. By educating friends and family to spot the signs of abuse we hope we can encourage people to get help sooner.

“Concerns about housing, money and children can all impact on a victim’s decision to speak out, yet if we ensure residents know where they can access support and information to allay these fears we can hopefully help more people escape abusive relationships.”

Michelle, a survivor of domestic abuse, who asked to for her surname to be withheld, said: “My advice to any woman suffering is that you have to stand up for yourself.

“It can be so hard to do particularly when you have children but if it gets too bad you have to get out.

“I didn’t tell anyone and no-one knew what happened behind closed doors but I also believed he would change but he never showed remorse.”

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