Speak out about domestic abuse

Last week I attended an event hosted by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, where an overview of the latest crime statistics for Croydon was presented. Sadly, the presentation highlighted there has been a marked increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents over the last 12 months.

The Family Justice Centre in Croydon, which provides a one-stop hub to support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence, estimates that up to 40,000 women in Croydon could be suffering from abuse. This is a shocking number and underlines the importance of having supportive structures in place to help women, and men, to share their story and get the help they need.

Many people who are victims of domestic abuse suffer in silence, and do so for a variety of reasons. Domestic abuse is also considered by some to be a taboo subject, but this can be challenged by fostering a climate where discussion about domestic abuse is permitted. In turn, this can help to bring a crime, which casts a dark shadow over the lives of so many people, into the light where it can be tackled.

Everyone has a part to play in helping to tackle domestic abuse and sexual violence, whether it’s community organisations, places of worship or a school. Even as individuals, we can be there to listen and support a friend who may be experiencing abuse. Our collective actions could stop someone from suffering years of physical, sexual or mental abuse or even save a life.

I had the opportunity to interview three people, each with their own story to tell about dealing with domestic abuse:

  • Paula Doherty is the strategic lead for troubled families, domestic abuse and sexual violence at the Family Justice Centre in Croydon. Paula spoke to me about the support her team provides to people who are suffering from abuse.
  • Chief Inspector Sian Thomas from Croydon Police spoke to me about the special training officers receive to better support the victims of domestic abuse. Sian also discussed the process of bringing the perpetrators of domestic abuse to justice.
  • Tina was sexually abused from a young age, with the perpetrator later becoming her partner. She found the courage to seek support from the Family Justice Centre and shared her painful story with me.

On 25th November 2014, Croydon Council is supporting White Ribbon Day, the world’s largest male-led movement to end men’s violence against women. The day also coincides with United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Find out here how you can take action and support the cause.