Lin Williams, Domestic Violence Co-ordinator for the Swindon Community Safety Partnership was joined by Frank Mullane, a local campaigner against domestic violence, and other agencies, including Crimestoppers, to launch a new advice leaflet for friends and relatives of domestic violence sufferers at the Savernake Community Centre in April.
The leaflet gives clear, practical guidance for anyone wanting to help a friend or relative who is experiencing domestic violence. It outlines how those experiencing the violence can best be helped to both acknowledge and overcome his or her situation.
Frank Mullane, whose sister, Julie and nephew, William were murdered by Julie's estranged husband, welcomed the leaflet. He said:
"The leaflet clearly explains how we help those being abused; what we should or shouldn't say and includes a heart stopping reminder that we may be a victim's only lifeline. I was shaking when I first read the advice, knowing that had I seen it earlier, my family might still be intact."
The advice contained in the leaflet includes several key messages, such as:
* Don't stay neutral or silent: be aware of your own safety, but bring the situation up yourself when the abusive partner is not around
* Reassure the victim: promote their self-worth and remind them that the abuse is unacceptable
* Take a non-judgemental approach: focus on the abuse and related safety issues
* Maintain regular contact, give encouragement and discuss different practical solutions
It is stressed in the pamphlet that people who experience domestic violence can be both male and female (the British Crime Survey suggests that one in six men will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives). Key local and national helplines are also included, and the leaflet will be distributed to various outlets across the borough, including GP and dental surgeries, health centres, libraries, youth clubs, colleges and work places.
Arlene Griffin, Chair of the Swindon Domestic Violence Steering Group, explained the importance of advising family and friends on the best course of action if someone close to them is experiencing domestic violence:
"A woman is assaulted by her partner on average 35 times before the abuse is reported to the police, so constructive advice that enables friends and relatives of people experiencing domestic violence to be supportive will, hopefully, help the victim to take positive action about their situation.
The following are help and advice lines for people experiencing domestic violence:
* In an emergency, always ring 999.
* Swindon 24 Hour Helpline 01793 536447
* Swindon Domestic Violence Unit – 0845 408 7000
* Victim Support Wiltshire: 01380 738888.
* The 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 200 0247
If anyone has any queries or would like a leaflet, they can telephone Lin Williams, Domestic Violence Co-ordinator on 01793 466512 .