Stowmarket businesses asked to help those experiencing domestic abuse

Mid Suffolk District Council is urging businesses and organisations in Stowmarket to attend a domestic abuse awareness event – empowering them to spot the signs of abuse and help address this.

The council has partnered with the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and Suffolk County Council’s domestic abuse champion co-ordinator, Teri Cudby, to host the free event on Monday 18 October at The Mix, and places can be booked via Eventbrite.

Attendees will be able to benefit from an introduction to coercive control, information on what victim-survivors might say and advice on questions to ask and how to respond – enabling them to support any customers, service users or staff who may be in an abusive situation. 

They can then decide if they’d like to become a Suffolk domestic abuse champion, joining a network of champions across the county, with over 500 already signing up to the scheme and receiving free domestic abuse training. 

One domestic abuse champion, family lawyer Julia, commented: “The training was really helpful, it gave me the confidence to highlight domestic abuse behaviours and give clients information on support services. This is particularly important as a lot of the clients that I come face to face with don’t even realise that they’re being subjected to domestic abuse.”

Amanda Page, operational manager of the Anglia Care Trust, will also give an insight into domestic abuse and the devastating impact this can have on families, individuals and households.

The Suffolk-based charity offers a domestic abuse outreach service, including a freephone support and guidance phoneline, which can be called on 0800 977 5690. In the past year, they have worked with 2,819 individuals whose lives have been affected by domestic abuse, 1,023 of which were children and young people. 

Those unable to attend the event, can find out further information on becoming a domestic abuse champion on Suffolk County Council’s website, which also includes a podcast on domestic abuse, including interviews with those who have signed up to the scheme and survivors, such as Stacey who shared her experience of being abused by an ex-partner:

“The first serious assault he knocked out my front teeth and fractured my nose. Overnight the whole relationship changed, he became verbally and physically abusive every day, starved me and sexually assaulted me. He controlled my whole world and told me that I couldn’t survive without him.

“I thought nobody is out there, no one cares and nobody will ever be willing to help me. I really thought that it wasn’t that serious and didn’t realise how severe the situation was. Every time I said I was going to leave, he threatened to set me and my children on fire. I genuinely believed him.”

There are also plans for further awareness events across Babergh and Mid Suffolk as part of the councils’ continued commitment to tackling domestic abuse, which has seen their communities and housing teams recently undergo specialist training.

Cllr Julie Flatman, Mid Suffolk cabinet member for communities commented: “I am pleased that our council is working with partners to give businesses and organisations in Stowmarket the skills they need to help tackle domestic abuse and provide support to anybody in an abusive situation – and I will be attending the event myself.

“Many people think that domestic abuse is physical, when in reality it is a range of behaviours, including coercive control and enforced isolation from family and friends. That’s why it’s so vital for those coming into contact with customers and service users to know the signs, as often they may be the only person that someone experiencing domestic abuse is able to see.”

Anyone in immediate danger from domestic abuse should contact 999. If speaking or making a sound isn’t possible and you need immediate help, call 999 and stay on the line, then press 55 when prompted, and the call will be transferred to the police who will know it is an emergency call.

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