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25 November 2013, 07:12
A victim of domestic abuse has told us how she managed to leave her abusive husband after 12 years.
This comes as today marks ‘White Ribbon Day’ and the start of this year’s ‘Norfolk Says No’ campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Research says one in four women and one in six men will suffer from domestic abuse at some point in their life.
We spoke to a mother and daughter from Norfolk about their experience of domestic violence. To protect their identity we have called them Alison and Rebecca.
Alison left her husband time and time again, but always ended up going back.
“You think it’s your fault, you’re trained, you’re almost brainwashed. I couldn’t even tie shoelaces when I left him. I was such a state.”
She told us that even after she had left him for good after 12 years, the abuse still affected her.
“Sometimes things come back, you think I don’t remember that. Just stupid things like when I had my daughter, I had to have stitches and he came up behind me one day and squashed me into the chair. You think, why would somebody do this to me?”
It's not just the victim that is directly affected by abuse. Alison’s daughter Rebecca was young at the time but told us some of the things she witnessed.
“My dad once held my mum up by the throat, I was upstairs and I could just see him, mum looked at me and it was the moment of when our eyes locked and I knew I had to do the right thing and that was calling the police.
“When dad used to go away he always used to sit me down and tell me that it was all mums fault and how mum was the one making him do all that and how I shouldn’t love her.”
New figures released by Norfolk Constabulary show that in the years 2011-2012 there were 12,978 domestic cases in total reported in Norfolk and a further 7,000 cases in Suffolk. In 79 per cent of these incidents, a child was affected by the abuse.
This comes as it has been announced that ‘Clare’s Law’, which allows women to check the criminal history of new partners, will be rolled out across England and Wales in March. The policy is named after Clare Wood, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2009.
Rebecca encouraged anyone seeing abuse in the home to report it:
“Tell somebody, don’t let it eat you up inside because your childhood is a precious thing that shouldn’t be ruined. I think they should be brave.”
Detective Superintendent Julie Wvendth, who heads the Constabulary's Vulnerability and Partnerships Directorate, said it was crucial young people felt confident enough to break the cycle of abuse and find support.
"We do not underestimate how difficult it can be for adults let alone children to speak out about being a victim of such violence or witnessing it direct, but it is important young people are aware of what constitutes abuse and the help which is available to them.”
The ‘Norfolk Says No’ campaign starts today at The Forum and will have information about local support services, between 10.30am and 4pm. White Ribbons will be available from City Hall throughout the week.
A number of events have been organised including art displays, workshops and the re-launch of a 'commitment letter' signed by a number of agencies, including the Constabulary and Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner, to pledge to continue to tackle such abuse.
For more information and a programme of what’s happening in Norwich and across Norfolk this week, visit the Norwich City Council website.
For help and support visit the website for Leeway, a refuge from domestic abuse, or contact their helpline on 0845 241 2171.