Break free. That’s the message to victims of domestic violence from a top Sunderland woman police chief. Women’s editor Linda Colling reports.
DOMESTIC abuse and rape supremo for the region is Detective Inspector Denise Clark.
Based at Southwick Police Station, she has responsibility for all such investigations in Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside and is part of Northumbria Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People section.
She has this message: “Domestic abuse affects people of all ages and backgrounds. We want to encourage victims to come forward and seek help and advice.
“This may be particularly difficult for victims in lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans relationships and also for those from black, minority and ethnic communities.
“We want victims to be confident that we understand the serious nature of domestic abuse and the lasting effects it has on them, their children and wider families.
“We realise that no single agency or individual can see the complete picture of the life of a domestic abuse victim. With this in mind, we work closely with our partners to ensure all options to increase the victim’s safety are explored.
“By coming forward people can end the suffering and get the support they need to start re-building their lives.
“People in intimate relationships and within families do not have to tolerate any form of violence and abuse. They should not suffer in silence. The blame rests entirely with the abuser in these circumstances.
“The earlier victims seek support, the sooner they can begin the process of changing their lives.
“We have a specially-trained team of officers who deal with reports of domestic abuse all-year round and Christmas and New Year is no exception.
“It is recognised that this time of year can often be particularly difficult for victims, so it’s important they are aware of the help and support available to them.
“Services are also available in Sunderland to perpetrators of Domestic Abuse.
“Our partners including Wearside Women in Need and Probation provide a range of support to perpetrators who are willing to engage with services to change their behaviour.
“However, those who continue to bully, manipulate, physically, sexually and mentally abuse their partners and family members have no place in our society and we’re committed to doing all we can to ensure they are put before the courts.
“Sunderland, as well as other areas in the Northumbria Police area, has an accredited Specialist Domestic Violence Court with trained magistrates and other professionals who understand the impact of domestic abuse.
“It is vitally important that we provide support to victims to help them find the courage to take the first steps towards escaping the cycle of abuse they suffer.
“We have lots of examples of extraordinarily brave women and men facing court to make sure these cowardly, violent offenders are brought to justice, and ourselves and our partners are there to help them every step of the way.”
* From April 1 to December 1, 2011, there were 3,999 incidents of domestic abuse in Sunderland, down from 4,126 for the same period last year. The number of incidents does not correspond to the number of victims.