Campaigners are calling for Portsmouth to become a flagship city for domestic abuse awareness.
Ukip Councillor, Julie Swan, is at the heart of a campaign to eradicate the growing problem of domestic abuse in Portsmouth. She believes that more needs to be done to reach out to victims of domestic abuse.
This message comes as Portsmouth City Council launches a campaign with Southern Domestic Abuse Service (SDAS), a Havant based refuge, to support perpetrators of domestic abuse and help them to get out of ‘the cycle’ of abuse.
The Early Prevention Project (EIP), the council’s domestic abuse service, has seen a 27% increase in referrals since 2013/14 with 1347 in the 2014/15 year.
Councillor Swan has spoken out about her struggle in an abusive relationship and believes that Portsmouth can lead the way in dealing with this crime that has crippling effects on people’s lives.
She says she is concerned that victims of domestic abuse don’t know where to turn when they are ready to seek help.
She also states that poster campaigns run by the council need to highlight to older women where they can get help, having the posters in supermarkets, shops and bars for example, as currently it is focused on young people.
“A lot of people have come to me since (I have spoken out) seeking help,” Councillor Swan says. “These are very strong women, some have very high-profile jobs and have put up with consistent abuse for years.”
SDAS chief executive Claire Chatwin, speaks of their work with the council, “This is a new innovative approach looking at it [domestic abuse] from a healthy relationship point of view. It could make a significant difference to how perpetrators are able to either re-engage with their children or break their cycle of domestic abuse.”
She goes on to say that domestic abuse is not going away and more people are asking for help, yet refuge capacity remains the same.