Campaigners are urging people in Woking to break the silence surrounding domestic abuse so that they, or someone they know, can get the help and support they need.
During Surrey Domestic Abuse Awareness Week (10 to 14 June), Woking Borough Council, Surrey Police and local service providers have been working together to highlight the different forms of abuse and the ways in which people in abusive relationships can break the silence.
Woking based charity, Your Sanctuary, operates a confidential domestic abuse helpline for the whole of the county, as well as providing specialist outreach services across Woking, Runnymede and Surrey Heath.
Fiamma Pather, Chief Executive Officer at Your Sanctuary, explains: “Many people find it difficult to recognise the signs of abuse with their family and friends, and struggle to believe that it is happening to somebody they know.
“Domestic abuse doesn’t have to be physical, there are more subtle, hidden forms of abuse such as telling someone how to dress, when they can see their family, reading their texts or cutting them off from their friends. These types of behaviours are referred to as ‘coercive control’ and a law was introduced in 2015 to make this a punishable offence.
“We understand the challenges people in abusive relationships face but the only way to make a change, is to break the silence, and talk to someone. Your Sanctuary can offer emotional support, practical advice and safety planning for people subjected to physical abuse.”
To raise awareness of the issue, Woking Borough Council has branded a shopfront along Commercial Way in the town centre with information and advice. Officers have also been talking to shoppers inside the Wolsey Centre about their experiences and their understanding of domestic abuse.
Cllr Colin Kemp, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “No one deserves to be frightened, controlled, hurt or abused by a partner or family member. We all need to be more aware and we can all help to break the silence. If we suspect somebody we know is affected by domestic abuse, we need to give them the time and space to talk. There’s guidance available online about how to initiate a conversation, or you can call the Your Sanctuary helpline for advice.”
Helping to ensure no one needs to suffer alone in silence, the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, recently announced she has chosen to support Your Sanctuary and the Women’s Support Centre during her mayoral term.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, or know someone who might be, please contact Your Sanctuary. You can chat to them via their helpline, on 01483 776822 (available 9am to 9pm, seven days a week), or online at www.yoursanctuary.org.uk
Surrey Domestic Abuse Awareness Week is supported by Surrey Police, Surrey County Council, Woking Borough Council, local charities and many other organisations. Further information about how you can #BreakTheSilence can be found at www.surreyagainstda.info