By learning the signs, more people will be able to identify where abuse is happening and report it so those suffering can get the help they need.
The call is part of a National Adult Safeguarding Week, which is this week raising awareness of services available to those suffering from abuse.
In the past year, police have recorded 7,402 incidents of domestic abuse in Cumbria. Domestic abuse continues to be an area that is often under-reported or where victims may not identify themselves as someone who is at risk of harm. Signs of abuse can include:
· Injuries – a victim may have bruising, cuts or other injuries. A victim may excuse their injuries by claiming they are clumsy or give the same explanation each time.
· Stress – a victim may display physical symptoms related to stress, other anxiety disorders or depression. They may have panic attacks, or have strong feelings of isolation and an inability to cope. In more extreme cases, the victim may talk of suicide or have even made attempts.
· Absent from work – a victim may be late for or off work on a regular basis, or take time off without notice.
· Personality changes – you may notice personality changes when a victim is around their partner. They may appear to ‘walk on eggshells’, or be jumpy and nervous
· Low self-esteem – a victim may express or display low self-esteem or lack of confidence regarding their relationship or life in general.
· Lack of money – a victim may never seem to have any money because their partner is withholding it from them to control them.
· Stops socialising – a victim may regularly make excuses for not going out with friends, or suddenly pull out of social meets at the last minute.
· A victim's partner might display irrational behaviour – they might be jealous, aggressive or possessive. He or she may accuse them of having affairs, flirting or may read their emails, check their phone or constantly phone to check up on them.
· Unwanted pregnancy/termination – pregnancy can trigger the start of domestic abuse. This may lead a female abuse victim to be unhappy at being pregnant, not wish to continue with the pregnancy, or be forced into having a termination by her partner.
· Substance abuse – victims may use alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescribed drugs like tranquillisers or anti-depressants to cope.
· Damage to property – there may be damage to the home or even harm to the pets of victims.
· The ‘relationship’ escalates quickly – the victim and perpetrator move in together very quickly.
Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Dan StQuintin, Cumbria Constabulary, said:
“Domestic abuse is an issue that safeguarding agencies across the UK will deal with multiple times a day. Everyone will know someone that is impacted by domestic abuse even if they are not aware it is happening.
“I would encourage every member of the public to keep an eye out for family members, friends or colleagues. By learning the signs of abuse, you may be in a position to identify a victim and subsequently report it to police so appropriate help can be offered to that person. Domestic abuse does not only affect the victim but any children living in that setting can also suffer.
“Every report we receive is thoroughly investigated and each victim is treated with respectfully and professionally.
“Reporting domestic abuse is an important step in ending abuse. I would encourage anyone that has concerns or feels that they may themselves be a victim to report what is happening so we can keep you safe, stop the abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall said: “It is critical that we raise awareness of all the services in Cumbria for people suffering from domestic abuse and also for the wider victims such as friends, families and communities affected by this heinous crime.
“It is essential we tackle domestic abuse as early as possible to help prevent people from suffering.
“We must do everything we can in an attempt to stamp out domestic abuse. The more people are in tune with how to spot the signs of domestic abuse, the more support we can give to those that need our help. Domestic abuse is totally unacceptable and we can all help to bring perpetrators to justice.”
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who is, and there is an ongoing emergency or life is in danger, call 999 now.
If you have been the victim of domestic abuse, or are concerned for someone who is, you can report this in the safety of your local police station.
In non-emergency cases and for general advice, please call 101.
For more information on National Adult Safeguarding Week and the work conducted by the Cumbria Safeguarding Adult Board and its associated agencies, please visit the board’s website: www.cumbriasab.org.uk. To follow the social media campaign please follow @cumbriasab on Twitter.