Domestic abuse

Does your behaviour #REFLECT the person you want to be? Get help to stop abusive behaviour

Reflect on your behaviourA new campaign launched across Essex is asking domestic abusers to reflect on and then change their dangerous behaviour has been launched in the run-up to Christmas.

Every year we see a rise in the number of incidents of domestic abuse over the festive period. In each of the last two years the force has recorded its highest daily number of reported domestic abuse incidents on New Year’s Day, with 146 incidents reported to the on 1 January 2016 and 135 the previous year.

Essex Police have launched 2,984 investigations into allegations of domestic abuse between 1 December 2015 and 1 January 2016. During the same period the previous year Essex Police began 2,510 domestic abuse investigations.

This Christmas, in a bid to reduce domestic abuse incidents and the serious harm caused to victims, Essex Police have joined forces with the  “Reflect” campaign, which is designed to engage with perpetrators and encourage them to “reflect” on their abusive behaviour and to seek help with The Change Project, an Essex-based charity.

The Change Project works proactively with men and women - who want to stop abusing partners or ex-partners - by changing their behaviour and attitudes. If you want to change your abusive behaviour please visit The Change Project website

TogetherWeCan

Essex County Council, the PCC and Essex Police in partnership with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Thurrock Council and Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commisioning Group launched the #TogetherWeCan campaign. It aims to encourage people to talk about domestic abuse and to direct victims to Essex Victims Gateway, where they can receive advice and help.

If you think that you or someone you know is being subjected to domestic abuse then please go to: www.essexvictimsgateway.org for advice and support.

Domestic abuse poster

Domestic abuse

Does your partner or family member:

  • Hit you?
  • Threaten to hurt you, your children, friends, family, pets, your belongings or themselves?
  • Put you down and make you feel bad about yourself?
  • Behave in a jealous or possessive way?
  • Control your money, against your wishes?
  • Make you have sex when you don't want to?
  • Control where you go and who you see?
  • Or are you worried you will be forced to marry someone?

If you answer yes to any of the above, you may be living with domestic abuse.

Effects of domestic abuse

Experiencing domestic abuse has a big impact on how a person feels about themselves and their lives. You may start to feel depressed or anxious and lose self confidence and self esteem. You may find it difficult to talk to other people, or feel that they won't understand, but remember:

  • It is not your fault.
  • You are not alone.
  • You can get support.

Effects of domestic abuse on children

Children can witness domestic abuse in a variety of ways. For example, they may be in the same room and may get caught in the middle of an incident, perhaps in an effort to make the abuse stop; they may be in another room but be able to hear the abuse or see their parent's physical injuries following an incident of abuse; or they may be forced to take part in verbally abusing the victim. Children are completely dependent on the adults around them, and if they do not feel safe in their own homes, this can have many negative physical and emotional effects. Children who witness domestic abuse may:

  • Become anxious or depressed.
  • Have difficulty sleeping.
  • Have nightmares or flashbacks.
  • Complain of physical symptoms such as tummy aches.
  • Start to wet their bed.
  • Have temper tantrums.
  • Behave as though they are much younger than they are.
  • Have problems at school, or may start truanting.
  • Become aggressive.
  • Internalise their distress and withdraw from other people.
  • Have a lowered sense of self-worth.
  • Start to use alcohol or drugs.
  • Begin to self-harm by taking overdoses or cutting themselves.
  • Develop an eating disorder.

Some parents and children use silence or denial to try to cope with the abuse. But most children appreciate an opportunity to acknowledge the abuse and to talk about what they are feeling. Do talk to your children - and listen to them. Try to be honest about the situation, without frightening them. Reassure them that the abuse is not their fault and that they are not responsible for adult behaviour. Explain to them that abuse is wrong and that it does not solve problems. Remember, your children will naturally trust you - try not to break that trust by directly lying to them.

You may believe it is best for your children if you try to keep the family together in order to provide the security of a home and two parents - despite the ongoing fear, and the emotional and physical abuse. However, children will feel more secure with one parent in a stable environment than with two parents when the environment is unstable and violent.

Housing advice

If you are a victim of domestic violence it doesn’t mean that you have to leave your home. After all, you have done nothing wrong. A number of avenues are available to you, in which you could take action to ensure that you have adequate housing and prevent you from becoming homeless.

The Council will provide housing advice and assistance to enable you to remain in your current home through the use of mediation, legal remedies or the Sanctuary Scheme. There may be occasions when you are unable to remain in your home and alternative accommodation such as a safe house or emergency temporary accommodation will be offered.

This may include providing support to enable you to return to your home if safety measures have been put in place; or to assist you to make a homelessness application if you are unable to return or remain in your home once other housing options have been exhausted. More information on housing options

The Sanctuary Scheme

The main feature of the scheme is the creation of a ‘sanctuary room’. Every ‘sanctuary’ is tailored to accommodate the needs and circumstances of the individuals involved.

The ‘sanctuary room’ consists of having an internal door replaced with a solid core door and reversing it to open inwards so that the door jamb acts as an additional barrier. Two locks are fitted to the top and bottom of the door as well as steel hinges, hinge bolts and a 180 degree door viewer. Fire precaution equipment is also provided. This provides a safe room or ‘sanctuary’ for victims to call for and await the arrival of police. Additional security can be provided as necessary, for example, locks on windows and doors.

Harlow residents who are at risk of homelessness due to domestic abuse, from a current or former spouse, partner or close family member are eligible. It is an alternative to temporary accommodation and is not limited to Council or registered social landlord tenants. It includes any person who is in fear of homelessness due to domestic abuse.

Referrals to the Sanctuary Scheme can be made through Essex Police, Harlow Council or Safer Places - once a referral has been received a Council officer will interview you and discuss if the Sanctuary Scheme is an option for you, as it may not be a suitable in all cases.

J9 logoJ9 Domestic Abuse initiative

The J9 is an initiative to raise awareness and to help victims of domestic abuse. The J9 Domestic Abuse initiative is named in memory of Janine Mundy who was killed by her estranged husband in June 2003 while he was on police bail. Janine was the mother of two young boys. The initiative was started by her family and the local police in Cambourne, Cornwall, where she lived.

Janine used to sign her text messages J9 hence the name of this initiative.

Where the J9 logo is displayed in a premises it alerts victims that they can obtain information which will help them to access a safe place where there can seek information and the use of a telephone.

More information on the J9 Domestic Abuse initiative

How to get help

Even though you may feel trapped it is important to remember that there are options open to you. Support can be obtained from any of the agencies listed below:

  • Safer Places: an independent domestic abuse charity dedicated to supporting adults and children affected by domestic abuse - call 03301 025811 (24 hours) or email info@saferplaces.co.uk.
  • CARA (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse): call 01206 769795 or email info@caraessex.org.uk
  • Galop: for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community - call 0300 999 5428
  • Men's Advice Line: for men experiencing domestic abuse - call 0808 801 0327 (10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
  • Crimestoppers: call 0800 555 1111.
  • Victim Support a national charity giving free and confidential help to victims of crime, witnesses, their family, friends and anyone else affected across England and Wales - call 0808 16 89 111.

In an emergency call the Police on 999.

Get an injunction if you've been the victim of domestic abuse

Help for young people

Get help if you are the abuser

If you are worried about your behaviour to your partner or a family member, or you have been violent and abusive, you can get help and advice. Please see the Change Project website.

Covering your tracks

An abusive partner can easily find out what websites you have been visiting by viewing the computers history. You may wish to consider deleting the history to hide which sites you have been looking at. There are downsides to deleting the history, for example it is very obvious that someone has deleted their browsing history, this may raise suspicion from your partner. How you delete the history depends on which web browser you are using and may not completely cover your tracks. If you want to be completely sure of not being tracked online, the safest way would be to access the internet at a local library, an internet cafe, friend's house or at work.