In Norfolk it's known that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse during their lifetime, the figures for men are 1 in 6. In late November I joined the Norfolk Says No campaign to help prevent violence in the home and encourage people to speak out. On average a victim is assaulted 35 times before they go to the police.
A Labour government in 2015 will reverse the Tories' 30% cut to funding for women's refuges.
Nationally, since 2010, a 31% cut in funding for refuges and specialist advice has led to the closure of 32 specialist refuges - one in six in the country. A further eight refuges are under imminent threat of closure.
Jenny McKibben is the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner. Figures from her office suggest between 80,000 and 100,000 women in Norfolk are affected and 50,000 men."The scale is immense across all levels of society. This carries a huge social and personal cost as well as serious financial implications for the public sector. Early intervention is the way forward, we want GPs, professionals and even colleagues and friends to help, by not staying silent if they suspect someone is a victim."
Ian Sturgess also from the PCC office deals specifically with Domestic Abuse. He's concerned that, ”we are seeing evidence of abusive relationships amongst our young people at an earlier and earlier age. This is something we must address. We should all be able to expect a relationship to be healthy. Where respect for each other is the base on which it is built".
I had a chance to meet some of the groups who are helping victims. The work of these groups is in some cases literally life saving, but as demand for their services has increased their funding has not.
I'm pleased the Labour Party has pledged to reverse some of the current funding cuts. We are also committed to supporting women's refuges which right now are at risk of closure.. But ultimately prevention is better than cure. It's well established the more financially unequal a society is, the greater the levels of violence. Until we tackle this rising tide of inequality head on, demand for these services will continue to increase. In the meantime supporting and funding the valuable work of these groups is essential.
Norfolk is the only place in the country which runs a week long campaign against such abuse. The violence affects men, women, children the elderly and those with a disability. People are being asked to sign a pledge to say they won't ignore, condone or stay silent where they see evidence of domestic violence in their community.
Full details at:
Picture is of me speaking with Claire Riseborough who volunteers for Leeway, a support service helping those affected by Domestic Violence.