A campaign to help people spot the signs of domestic abuse and know where to get help has been launched in Cheshire at The Georges Community Centre in Crewe. ‘Open the Door’ aims to equip people with the tools to feel safe and confident having a conversation about unhealthy relationships. It has been developed by a partnership of a local domestic abuse survivor group, Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Halton and Warrington borough councils, the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Cheshire Constabulary and Public Health England. The partnership aims to encourage victims, perpetrators, friends and family to get information about how to spot the signs and access early help. It is the first time that police and all four local authorities have joined forces to provide support for residents about what is available to them locally. The campaign encourages friends and family to trust their instincts, as many of the initial signs and symptoms of abuse can be tricky to spot from the outside. These signs include:
- Undermining you, so you lose confidence;
- Isolating you from your friends and family;
- Making all the decisions in your life, including what you wear, who you talk to and where you go and when;
- Making you do things that you don’t want to do;
- Controlling your money;
- Following you when you go out; and
- Needing to know where you are at all times.
A survivor group helped inform the campaign sharing their experiences and the support they received. One member of the group, Amy, said: “It was my abuser’s mum who handed me the domestic abuse helpline number. People had told me before ‘he’s no good for you, you need to get away. You’ll be happier without him’. When she handed me that card, I knew it was time. I needed to get myself back, I’d lost myself.” Councillor Jos Saunders, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “Domestic abuse can happen to anyone – no matter who you are, your gender, background, what you do or where you live. It can cause serious harm to victims and their families, especially to children who witness it. “We have been working hard with our partners across the county to help ensure that no-one has to live in fear, providing services that enable survivors and those close to them to be safe and recover. We also work with those who harm, to try and help them change their behaviour. “Tackling domestic abuse remains one of our top priorities and everyone can play a vital role in opening the door on unhealthy relationships. We want to work with our communities to develop the skills and knowledge they need so they can spot signs of abuse earlier and feel able to start a conversation about it.” Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: “Cheshire’s Open the Door campaign will be promoting self-help and early intervention for people who are experiencing domestic abuse and those who care abut them. It will encourage residents to recognise the signs and be confident in speaking openly about it, in order to get help either for themselves or to help someone who is in an abusive relationship. “It is very often family members or close friends who can see when a relationship is not healthy, or doesn’t seem quite right, so this campaign is encouraging friends and family to understand how to spot abuse and then have the confidence to have the right conversation to support someone they are worried about. Encouragingly, research carried out reveals that, once support has been received, 80 per cent of people felt safer.” If you are affected by domestic abuse or concerned for someone else, call 0300 123 5101 at any time or visit www.openthedoorcheshire.org.uk but in an emergency, always call 999.