One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

Those are just two of the many statistics and facts revealed at a Domestic Abuse Conference held in Swindon yesterday organised by the High Sheriff of Wiltshire Nicky Alberry and supported by Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson.

Trying to stop domestic abuse once and for all by improving help for victims and working with the perpetrators was the key aim of the meeting of delegates from county-wide agencies who are involved in protecting and supporting men and women who suffer with mental and physical domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse isn’t just about violent or threatening behaviour – it can be psychological or emotional, sexual or financial, controlling and coercive. It can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, religion, race or sexuality. It can happen in short and long term relationships and partners, ex-partners and family members can all be involved.

Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson funds a number of support services throughout Wiltshire and Swindon and opened today’s meeting;  he was followed by a number of guest speakers from organisations speaking about what help they can offer to all victims across Swindon and Wiltshire.

He said: “Domestic abuse can be devastating for the victim – damaging  every part of their and their family’s lives.  No one should ever have to go through the horrific ordeal of being abused, controlled or coerced.

“Today’s conference has been a wonderful opportunity for those decision makers – the agencies involved in protecting and helping victims of domestic abuse – to get together to share how best we can protect those who suffer abuse in relationships, whatever that relationship is.

“I’m heartened at the level of collaboration focused on protecting victims and how we all can keep improving those services to those men and women.  A good example is the excellent work of Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) based in GP practices and at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

“Putting victims at the heart of Wiltshire Police’s work is a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan and I am delighted to be able to commission a number of valuable support services across the county to protect domestic abuse victims and survivors.

“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 be empowered to get the help they need.”

The High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Nicky Alberry, said:  “I was really pleased to see at around 100 delegates representing organisations from our county who work in the area of domestic abuse and domestic violence.

“It was encouraging to see them coming together to share some incredible ideas and in some cases making new connections to continue and improve the good work that they do.
“I look forward to working with the unitary authorities of Swindon and Wiltshire as well as Wiltshire Police in this area of very important and necessary work.
“I also want to thank all who have helped me put this conference on including the hard work and support of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.”

Domestic abuse is everyone’s business – if it’s happening to you or someone you know, report it as soon as you can. We understand that victims of domestic abuse will often feel scared to report it but the abuse often gets worse over time.

Some of the signs that you might be in an abusive relationship are:

• Your partner is violent towards you, inflicts physical injuries to you or threatens you with violence

• Your partner verbally abuses you, criticises you, puts you down or makes you feel inferior or worthless

• Your partner controls where you are allowed to go, who you are allowed to see, what you can spend money on, what you can do and what you wear

• Your partner sends you excessive messages, emails or voicemails or calls you all the time to monitor what you’re doing

• You avoid seeing friends and family and become withdrawn, isolated or reluctant to leave the house

• Your partner forces you to have sex or carry out sexual acts when you don’t want to

• Your partner makes you feel afraid of them

• You think you are to blame for the way your partner treats you

• You feel embarrassed for your friends and family to see how your partner treats you

Some of the signs that someone you know might be in an abusive relationship are:

• They are reluctant to do anything with friends of family and become withdrawn

• They seem depressed

• They get anxious if plans change suddenly or they might be home late

• They have signs of physical injuries

• They get lots of phone calls, messages or voicemails from their partner when they are out

• They avoid meeting you when their partner is around

• They seem fearful of their partner

• Checking if someone has been in an abusive relationship before.

Call 101 to report concerns, or if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999.

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