England is now subject to National lockdown: Stay at Home restrictions. You must stay at home.
A new campaign to highlight the signs of domestic abuse in the run up to Christmas and New Year, has been launched by the Safer Portsmouth Partnership.
Is This Love? aims to raise awareness about all forms of domestic abuse, including emotional and financial, which often go unrecognised. The campaigns asks individuals to consider whether their relationship is healthy, or whether it could be abusive.
As well as pressures around Christmas, the impact of lockdown this year has had a significant impact on many individuals living with domestic abuse.
Clare Jenkins, Portsmouth Superintendent for Hampshire Constabulary, said: “This campaign is particularly pertinent at this time of the year when we know that the number of domestic abuse cases reported increase. It’s important to be working together to ensure that anyone suffering from domestic abuse knows where to get help.”
A few year ago, Kirsty Mellor, from Portsmouth, found the courage to leave an abusive relationship.
“It didn’t begin with physical violence,” she said. “It was subtle and gradual – to the point everything I did throughout my daily routine I had him in mind; from tins stacked front-facing and toothpaste squeezed correctly to gravy made with water first. He dictated the way I did everything and anything.
“When he was cross he would hurl abuse at me. He was always sorry after, but that didn’t break the cycle and the violence soon escalated to physical abuse.”
Tackling domestic abuse has been a priority for the Safer Portsmouth Partnership for more than a decade, and there is always an increased demand for support around this time of the year; more so with the impact of the pandemic.
Cllr Lee Hunt, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Portsmouth City Council, said: “Together with many partners city-wide, from all backgrounds and ages, our work to reduce and prevent domestic abuse will never stop.
“40% of all assaults in Portsmouth take place in a family setting, and witnessing violence is a risk factor for perpetrating violence and/or experiencing further abuse – so it’s paramount that we do everything we can, particularly during such difficult times and at this time of the year, to raise awareness of abusive behaviours and ensure people know where they can go to get help.”
The domestic abuse service for Hampshire, Stop Domestic Abuse, supports anyone affected by unhealthy and abusive relationships. The team run a helpline from 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am-6pm weekends and bank holidays.
Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council and Chair of Portsmouth Health and Wellbeing Board, said:
“During lockdown, we continued to provide support for families and individuals experiencing abuse, and made extra funding available for the city’s domestic abuse service, Stop Domestic Abuse – to help manage the increased demand. If anyone is experiencing domestic abuse and needs support, we’d encourage them to reach out. Stop Domestic Abuse are here to help seven days a week.”
If you need support, call Stop Domestic Abuse, on: 023 9206 5494 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If it’s an emergency, always call 999.
Find out if your relationship is healthy by taking a short online survey at www.isthislove.org.uk.
Safer Portsmouth Partnership is a group of public organisations – including the council and the police – responsible for reducing crime and substance misuse in Portsmouth; ensuring that the city stays a safe place to live in, work in and visit. The Partnership is part of the Portsmouth Health and Wellbeing Board.