This month, we’re starting a conversation about domestic abuse and relationship issues. February marks Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week, beginning today and ending on the 11th February.
Domestic abuse and sexual abuse happens to people you may know or walk past everyday. It happens in Harrogate. It may have happened to you. It’s time to start talking about what is acceptable when it comes to relationships and sexual violence and how the Harrogate Hub can help.
Domestic violence is a type of abuse that can be physical, emotional, mental as well as sexual. Whilst many of us may be celebrating Valentine’s Day with our loved ones this month, there are others in our town whose relationships aren’t all what they seem to be on the outside.
In fact, it is estimated that 150-200 people per month seek support for domestic abuse in Harrogate.
This is where the awareness week comes in.
Single, or in a relationship; or like me, in a happy, loving and respectful relationship, it can be hard to believe that anyone could ever be abusive in a partnership.
Sometimes people might not know it themselves.
As I was scrolling through twitter last week, I saw these tweets from West Yorkshire police, which really got me thinking:
— West Yorkshire Police (@WestYorksPolice) January 31, 2018
— West Yorkshire Police (@WestYorksPolice) January 30, 2018
Domestic abuse isn’t always obvious.
It can often start with subtle actions from a partner like text messages or controlling behaviour. Often those abused don’t notice the signs at first.
These subtle actions can escalate. In some cases, they can escalate so much that for some women there is no escape; 2 women in England and Wales die because of domestic abuse on average each week, according to Homicide Statistics.
It’s not just women who suffer but as seen in the tweet above, 1 in 6 men experience some form of abuse within a relationship.
It’s important to notice the signs. You may feel afraid of your partner or feel like they’re always criticising you. Perhaps you’re too embarrassed to mention these feelings to friends or family.
At the Hub we are here to help those who feel they’ve got nowhere to turn.
We help by listening and offering support, and we can signpost to IDAS, the Independent Domestic Abuse Services.
We can help you through the process of getting in touch with IDAS or other specialist services, and we will continue to offer our support – we won’t withdraw our help once we’ve signposted you. We’ll continue to walk alongside you on your journey for as long as you want.
Speaking about the new Domestic Abuse Awareness Campaign on North Yorkshire Police’s website, Sarah Hill, Director at IDAS said:
“IDAS are delighted to be able to launch a new awareness campaign with the support of the OPCC and NYP. Over the next 6 months, the campaign will provide a range of information about domestic abuse and about the services available for victims of abuse.
For every person who reports or seeks help because of abuse, four more people do not report or access any support or help at all.
This campaign will reach out to those people and help them access services and support when they need it. This will increase reporting, reduce risk and help more people live a life that is free from harm and violence.”
If you or anyone you know in Harrogate show any signs of being a victim of domestic abuse, please get in touch with the Harrogate Hub or IDAS. Or if you are experiencing or have experienced sexual abuse, please don’t stay silent. You can call us during our open hours on 01423 369393 or drop in to our welcome centre on 39 Oxford Street, Mondays-Fridays, 10-12 noon, and Mondays-Thursdays, 2-4pm.
Abusive behaviour is not ok, but it’s definitely ok to talk about it.
Follow the hashtag #itsnotok to read other people’s stories.
Check out this site for more helpful guidance:
Written by Rachel Williams
Edited by Ella Green