Some people may look forward to spending Valentines Day with their loved ones – exchanging special gifts and perhaps a romantic meal. For others in relationships, it may highlight that all is not well.
In the latest stage of the force’s ‘Talk To Us, We Can Help’ campaign, which is focusing on encouraging people to report incidents of domestic abuse, Sussex Police are keen to hear from young people of both sexes who are experiencing such abuse.
At present most calls for help over domestic abuse do not come from teenagers, but police and partners believe that they can still face problems in their relationships and are seeking to bring this issue more into the open. It may that today’s teenagers don’t realise that domestic abuse can include intimidating and controlling behaviour, over which they are less likely to approach adults for help.
Detective Sergeant Laurence Cartwright said: “Domestic abuse can be in many forms – not just physical harm, but intimidation through controlling behaviour, harassment and threats. It is difficult for people, perhaps more so for young people who are not used to being in a relationship, to recognise that the way their partner is behaving towards them is actual abuse and is not acceptable. What we would like people to do is talk to us or if they can’t talk to us, then talk to someone. Abuse is something you do not have to put up with.”
As part of the campaign, officers from Brighton’s Neighbourhood Policing Team and Anti Victimisation Unit, have been working with a number of young people from Brighton Youth Centre, and urban art agency Wet Paint Productions, to design and create commissioned street art murals which will seek to encourage other young people to report domestic abuse. The murals will be painted on the side walls of Bagelman on Bond Street and Costa Coffee on London Road on Saturday 9 February. Both businesses have given permission for their walls to be used and have been very supportive of the initiative.
PCSO Laura Hall from the Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “By working directly with young people, we have been able to engage with them and discuss the subject of domestic abuse in terms they understand. By taking their learning and understanding and turning it into artwork aimed at a similar age group, will help raise the profile of the issue and bring it in to the open.”
Fay MacDonald, Co-Founder of Wet Paint Productions, said: “The Police and street art might not seem like a natural partner at first, but this is about using spray paint to create powerful messages through art on walls. All activities are offered and delivered within a legitimate, responsible and safe environment. For this project, street art is being used as a creative and interactive way to bring different people together and explore challenging issues that affect communities. The young people, a group of 16 with an average age of 12, have responded brilliantly to this project. It’s not an easy topic, but they have applied their thinking and imagination really well to come up with some great visual ideas for the message and mural.”
This latest initiative is part of the continuing Sussex Police campaign to encourage more reporting of a range of personal crimes including domestic abuse. In December a 24-hour ‘tweetathon’ was viewed by over 75,000 people and over 8,000 people tuned in during the live web-chats with 129 questions submitted. During the same period more than 110 people reported incidents of domestic abuse, a 100% increase over the usual daily average.
During the following 2012/3 Christmas and New Year period, Sussex Police received an extra 33% of domestic abuse calls compared with the same period in the previous year, and police believe that this increase is at least in part due to increasing awareness of the issue through initiatives such as the tweetathon, and of the support which is available.
Sussex Policing and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said; “”I was elected on a manifesto pledge to tackle domestic abuse and this is one of my key priorities during my first year in office. The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness and to prevent teenagers from becoming victims and perpetrators of abusive relationships. We want them to think about what is unacceptable behaviour in relationships and be able to direct them to places for help and advice.”
Sgt Cartwright added: “Domestic abuse is a widespread social problem that affects a variety of people. It doesn’t always involve or start with physical violence, and can include all sorts of controlling behaviour. There is a lot of help available, not only from Sussex Police, but 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
Notes to Editors:
The murals will be started at 11.00am on Saturday 9 February. For the best photo/filming opportunities we suggest visiting the sites between 1.00pm and 2.00pm. Police, the young people, and Wet Paint workers will also be available for interview there.
Apparently, they’re going to be using Facebook to help.
There’s nothing here at the moment. Maybe we can get things started?!