Hertfordshire partnership striving to break the cycle of domestic abuse

Published: 26 Nov 2018

Sunday 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (White Ribbon Day), marked the launch of the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership’s campaign; Breaking the Cycle

Led by Hertfordshire County Council, working with Hertfordshire Constabulary and lots of partners across health, community and voluntary sectors; Breaking the Cycle will see 16 days of awareness raising action to help anyone affected by domestic abuse to find the right help and support locally.

Jenny Coles, Chair of the Domestic Abuse Executive Board explained; “Domestic abuse is not just simply about violence, abuse can come in a variety of forms, some of which people may struggle to recognise more easily than others.

“Domestic abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, financial or psychological. It is any incident or pattern of controlling, forced, manipulation or threatening behaviour. Most importantly, domestic abuse does not discriminate.

“This is why it’s so important that we all work together. It’s vital that residents and professionals all help to play a part in breaking the cycle of domestic abuse today so it doesn’t become the ‘norm’ or the future. We need to support and empower people, just like Ann who’s story we have shared, to make a positive change.”

Ann* from Hertfordshire left her partner a number of years ago, however was still experiencing controlling behaviour from her ex partner and was struggling to cope emotionally. In addition her ex partner was using their children as an extension of this behaviour, turning up unannounced to see them and changing planned contact with them in order to disrupt Ann’s work.

Ann was at a really low ebb, she felt she was on the verge of a breakdown and was worried about having her children taken away from her. This was coupled with living in fear because her ex partner was still entering the family home and treating it as if it was still home.

The children were often late for school and had some attachment issues not wanting to be parted with their mum, meaning that every day dropping them at school was increasing difficult. The children were struggling because of these challenges and the school raised some concerns.

One of the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Partners, Herts Mind Network worked with Ann to build her confidence providing insight into this type of abusive behaviour and methods to help her deal with her ex partners actions. They also supported her with an application for a non-molestation order and to report incidents to the police that she had never had the courage or help to do before.

Eventually Ann felt much stronger and took back control of her life. Her wellbeing greatly improved and she felt more able to do things for herself. Ann felt safer at home and was then able to cope with supporting the children's challenging behaviour and their school attendance and work improved as a result. Ann’s confidence has improved to the point where she has since been strong enough to share her experiences with others in similar circumstances locally so that this might empower them.

In 2017/18 there were 19,651 reported cases of domestic abuse in Hertfordshire; a 7.1 per cent increase on the previous year.

Domestic abuse is everyone’s business. Nationally it affects 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men at some point in their lifetime and at least 750,000 children will be affected each year. In Hertfordshire, children were known to be present in the home in 26% of all reported domestic abuse crimes and incidents in 2015/16, and sadly recorded as a witness to the abuse in 14% of these.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Ball, Joint Chair of the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership Board, said: “This year in Hertfordshire, we saw the first ever coercive control conviction following the death of the victim, who had tragically taken her own life as a result of abuse.

“This both shows the devastating impact domestic abuse can have and sends out the clear message that we are committed to tackling these crimes, whatever the circumstances.

“Greater public understanding is key to protecting people and intervening earlier so that people suffering from abuse do not have to suffer in silence.”

You can show your support for our campaign by liking and sharing our posts on social media using #breakingthecycleherts to help us raise awareness and join in the conversation.

If you’re concerned about yourself, your children, a family member, friend or colleague; free confidential advice is available at www.hertssunflower.org or by calling the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08 088 088 088 (9am-9pm Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm Sat/Sun). In an emergency, always dial 999.

*Real names have been changed to protect identities