Campaign shines light on impact of domestic abuse in isolated areas
- Credit: RACHEL EDGE
Suffolk police teamed up with the Co-op to shine a light on the acute impact felt by victims of abuse in rural communities.
Officers used the annual White Ribbon campaign to focus on a 'hidden harm' underlying remote areas, where victims are half as likely to report domestic abuse.
In a bid to highlight the support available, police are holding a number of events in partnership with the East of England Co-op, county council, Leeway domestic violence and abuse services, Ipswich Town Football Club and Rural Coffee Caravan.
The Co-op will be promoting the campaign at shops across the county, including in Elmswell, where staff were joined by the rural crime team on Wednesday.
Two patrol vehicles are displaying the White Ribbon logo and message: 'Talking to somebody is the first step'.
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A public engagement stand was at Portman Road on Saturday and information was also available at the Police Pod during the Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre.
Community engagement officers will be joining volunteers from the Rural Energy Café, organised by the Rural Coffee Caravan, at Dennington village hall from 10am-12pm on Tuesday to talk about related issues.
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Officers and staff have been issued 500 ribbons to wear, while the local UNISON branch, Suffolk Association of Women in Policing and Suffolk Police Federation are hosting roadshow events.
Detective Superintendent David Giles said anyone can be affected by domestic abuse, but that living in a rural area can have a higher impact on people's willingness to report it, or seek help and support.
"I am determined that the message gets through to everyone that you are not alone - help is a phone call away," he added.
A White Ribbon event was also held on Thursday by Bury St Edmunds Women's Aid Centre, which offers refuge to women and children, outreach support and a 12-week programme on detecting and coping with abuse, while a Survivors of Domestic Abuse group offers benefits advice, wellbeing help and activities.
Administrator Zoe Gordon said clients receive continued support from a resettlement service upon leaving refuge - and that a dedicated helpline operates from Monday to Friday on 01284 753085.
A national domestic violence helpline is available on 0808 2000 247. Police can be called for advice and non-urgent enquiries on 101.