Brave domestic abuse victim speaks out to encourage others to report incidents to the police (27 Jun 2016)

A domestic abuse survivor has bravely spoken out in support of a campaign launched to tackle violent behaviour by West Yorkshire Police.

Last month, West Yorkshire Police launched a campaign for the duration of the Euro 2016 football tournament to reduce the number of domestic abuse incidents after seeing an increase in incidents during other major sporting events.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that she never saw herself as a victim of domestic abuse until the violence escalated and she was left with serious injuries.

Last summer, her then husband violently assaulted her and she fled the house covered in blood, to safety and then called the police. Her main concern was not herself but to ensure her children were safe, as they were in the house at the time.

Once she had reported the incident to police, he pleaded guilty to common assault and was sentenced four months later. He received a suspended prison sentence and an indefinite restraining order, preventing him for contacting her.

She said: "The last incident was the final straw for me - there had been a number of incidents throughout my marriage when my husband was violent, but this was by far the worst. His eyes were glazed over in rage and kept saying over and over again that he was going to kill me.

"I think there are many people out there, as I was, who are in denial about their situation, it is very easy, as I found myself, to brush it aside and make excuses about what is happening. The first step is to admit there is a problem.

"For me, it came to the point where I had no other choice but to call the police. My husband violently attacked me and I feared for my life, I thought he was going to kill me. I had to leave the house in the middle of the night to get to safety and I was terrified about what might happen next. My main concern above everything was my children - I did not want them to either witness any violence or get hurt themselves.

"Once the court case was over, I felt like a weight had been lifted and relieved. I got the best possible outcome in court and because I was granted a restraining order I felt that I had the protection I needed and felt safer.

"There is still a taboo around domestic abuse and an embarrassment around reporting incidents to the police. I now know what is acceptable and what isn't in a relationship and I would never put up with any sort of abuse again; and no one should."

Detective Superintendent Darren Minton, of West Yorkshire Police's Safeguarding Central Governance Unit: said: "Domestic abuse is an offence which can have severe emotional and physical effects on its victims and I want those suffering or at risk of suffering to know that safeguarding professionals are better equipped than ever to provide help, advice, support and that officers will make every effort to prosecute those responsible.

"Some victims suffer controlling and coercive behaviour for a long time with their partner's behaviour gradually getting worse and eventually ending in violence. We have specially trained officers working across the Force in our specialist safeguarding units who take all reports seriously, deal with them sensitively and do everything possible to safeguard those who are vulnerable.

"West Yorkshire Police are absolutely committed to putting the needs and wishes of the victim at the heart of what we do and I would urge anyone who is subject to domestic abuse to make contact with us directly or alternatively through other partners or third sector agencies to ensure that you receive the necessary support and advice to break the cycle of abuse."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner said: "I would like to commend the courage of this victim in coming forward and speaking out about domestic abuse.

"The most important part of this campaign is to raise awareness of this crime and that victims will be listened to and that there is help available. It is absolutely crucial that victims know that domestic abuse is not their fault and that they do not have to put up with it. There's no reason for a violent or abusive home and it's something no-one should have to live with at any time."

Finally, the brave woman wanted to give some advice to people to try and avoid incidents of violence. She said: "If you can it's important to try and take a step back from the situation, walk out of the room or take a deep breath. It's not worth destroying everything you have got for a moment of mindless violence.

"To people who are suffering any form of domestic abuse, don't be ashamed, you haven't done anything wrong and don't make any excuses for them. I've learnt the hard way that it won't change and no one should have to tolerate it."

If you have been a victim, or witnessed domestic abuse and do not wish to speak to the police, please call the 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. You can report domestic abuse by calling 101 and asking to speak to your local Safeguarding Unit.  If a crime is ongoing, and there is a threat to life always call 999.

A number of help lines are also available for men who think they might become violent and want to stop, they include The National Helpline For Men Wanting To Change, 0808 8024040 and STOP Leeds 0113 244 6007 or [email protected] Men's Group 0800 915 1561.

At the weekend, media display vehicles were put in place across West Yorkshire including Bradford city centre, Xscape, Halifax, Dewsbury and Leeds city centre. For more information on domestic abuse, including ways to report and support agencies on our website www.westyorkshire.police.uk/euro2016

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018