Avon and Somerset Police have launched a month-long domestic abuse awareness campaign in the lead up to the first anniversary of the new crime of controlling or coercive behaviour. 

Launched on the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), the ‘Precious Moments’ campaign will challenge the perception of a ‘typical’ domestic violence victim by telling the stories of abuse against women but also towards men, the LGBT+ community and the elderly, who all remain underrepresented in the reporting of abuse. It is a multi-agency campaign involving local authorities in the region and a number of charities and support organisations. 

To launch the campaign, one of their police officers has bravely spoken out about her experience as a victim of domestic abuse. She said: “I was a copper, a strong person, used to helping others – how on earth could I be a victim of abuse? Abuse is paralysing, it sneaks up on you over years, until one day it dawns on you and you barely recognise the person staring back at you in the mirror.”

Over the four weeks, the campaign will share the stories of different victims who will talk about their experiences and how they found the strength to go from victims to survivors. A key message is for the family members and friends who are concerned about someone in their life to “look, listen, ask and ask again”.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Protecting the most vulnerable from harm is one of the priorities highlighted in my Police and Crime Plan. Domestic abuse is never the victims fault and I want victims to know that if they come forward and report to the Police they will be believed and taken seriously.

“In the UK the term domestic abuse includes lots of different types of abuse; psychological and emotional, physical, sexual, harassment and control and coercion. There are no excuses for domestic abuse and no one has the right to control or abuse another person either physically or mentally. 

“We have some fantastic support services in Avon and Somerset. However we can all do more to ensure victims are able to seek support, to prevent offenders, to raise awareness amongst friends and families who continue to see abuse as a private matter and to stop society and professionals from victim-blaming. 

“Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and I hope this multi-agency campaign makes the Police, our partners and our local communities' look, listen, ask and ask again to take us one step further in our battle against domestic abuse.”

The campaign runs until December 29, the first anniversary of the new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships. Since the law was introduced, Avon and Somerset Police has arrested 59 people for this new offence. 

For further information and support, please log onto www.thisisnotanexcuse.org.uk

Anyone wishing to report abuse can contact the police on 999, 101 or on their website here.