Domestic abuse 'is growing problem'

REPORTS of domestic abuse in Colchester have almost doubled over the last five years, it has been revealed.Detectives dealing with abuse in the home said they had also seen an increase in male victims and abuse between same-sex couples.

By Annie Davidson

REPORTS of domestic abuse in Colchester have almost doubled over the last five years, it has been revealed.

Detectives dealing with abuse in the home said they had also seen an increase in male victims and abuse between same-sex couples.

They cited the Christmas season and this year's World Cup as times when reports of domestic abuse increased.

To mark the start of Worldwide Domestic Violence Week, officers from the town's Domestic Violence and Hate Crime Unit were on hand at Colchester High Street on Saturday to raise awareness of the issue.

Detective Constable Linda Darrington, who has been working as part of the unit for six years, said an average of 140 domestic incidents were reported every month - compared to about 80 a month five years ago.

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She said that of all violent crime reported to the police more than a quarter of those were domestic incidents.

“Domestic abuse is not always physical, it can be verbal abuse and intimidation and verbal arguments,” she said.

“We also see it between same sex couples as well as dealing with male victims.”

Detective Sergeant Tracy Martinex said: “Sometimes it is more subtle than an obviously violent relationship.

“It can be mental abuse with a lot of control, like not letting the woman have family or friends, interaction with other people and hobbies.

“This still affects people's lives, it takes their confidence away and gives them low self-esteem.”

Det-con Darrington added that physical violence could begin after mental abuse and that there was an increased risk of violence beginning or intensifying when female victims became pregnant, especially in 16-25-year-olds.

She explained this was because the abuser, having eliminated people out of the victim's life, could feel threatened by her interaction with health professionals,

Det Con Darrington said there were no boundaries to domestic violence, with some victims being in their 70s when they reported abuse.

She said the pattern could also run in families with sons and daughters becoming abusers or victims of abuse themselves.

“We aim to break the cycle of abuse,” she said. “We need to raise awareness and reach members of the community to highlight this very difficult and sensitive area and also to impart advice to anyone who might benefit from it.”

The awareness day, organised by Colchester Inter-Agency Domestic Violence Forum, saw more than 500 white ribbons handed out to people willing to show their support.

Det Con Darrington said: “A few victims who were survivors of domestic abuse came to talk to us and we had perpetrators approach us and said they used to be abusers and had done time for it.

“Some of them were a bit shy to start with but then they got talking more and they understood what we were trying to do.

“We also had people needing our advice. It was a really positive day and well worth doing.”

Anyone needing help or advice about domestic abuse can call the Colchester Women's Refuge 24-hour helpline on 01206 500585.

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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