A victim of domestic abuse who suffered for 10 years has shared her story to help raise awareness for this year’s 16 Days of Action campaign.
The annual campaign starts today and will focus on highlighting the issue of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
In order to keep the victim anonymous we have used the name Lucy.
Lucy had been in an abusive relationship for 10 years since the age of 18 where she became isolated and was frequently beaten.
It took her time to realise what she was suffering was not ‘normal’ for a relationship and then separated from her partner.
She said: “Unfortunately he was not kind to me and became very aggressive and violent. But I was young and had cut off lots of people in my life to be with him.
“I didn’t know what a ‘normal’ relationship was and I had no-one to talk to who could tell me it was wrong.”
The Office of National Statistics estimates that 1.9 million adults in the country aged between 16 and 59 have experienced domestic abuse in the past year with 46 per cent not classing themselves as victims.
Over the past 12 months, Gloucestershire Constabulary have received 4,743 reports of domestic abuse related crimes.
Lucy wants to raise awareness of the signs that people should look out for and to call for help and get support.
The 16 Days of Action campaign begins on International Day for the elimination of violence against women and will look to educate and inform local communities.
Both men and women can be victims of domestic abuse and the campaign will have an emphasis on how you can identify and support relatives, friends and community members who may be experiencing domestic abuse and/or sexual violence.
Lucy detailed some of the assaults that she faced, she said: “I remember being crumpled on the floor, sobbing as he kicked me. I screamed ‘please stop. Please someone help I can’t get out’ but no-one ever came.
“No-one ever knocked on the door to see if I was ok, or even called the police.
“If I could speak to my neighbours now, I would say no matter how hard it is to speak up, please say something or tell someone.”
Helen Pritchard, county domestic abuse & sexual violence strategic coordinator said: “Domestic abuse is devastating lives in our community and we know that one in four women and one in six men will have experienced domestic abuse in their life time.
“An abusive relationship is a complex situation that I would describe as being like a stick of rock; the centre core is coercive control that is present in almost all abusive relationships.
“This is demonstrated by isolation, control over the victim and making them feel dependant on the abuser and around this centre core we often find secondary layers with each one being another form of abuse.
“One layer for emotional abuse – words that make the victim feel like they are nothing, another layer for the assaults – some careful and considered like hair pulling so as not to leave a mark, others more obvious requiring the victim to create stories about how they obtained them and around that layer we may find sexual assaults or financial abuse. There won’t always be lots of layers.
“The solid core of coercive control and any other layers built upon that form a hard stick of rock that is difficult to break but will no doubt have some sweetness to them.
“The relationship will consist of some loving moments, with gifts or gestures designed to make the victim believe that this is normal and make it hard to leave or to make others believe that nothing out of the ordinary is happening behind closed doors.”
If you are concerned that yourself, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic abuse or violence, contact the Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service on 0845 602 9035.
In an emergency, call the police on 999.