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Tackling Domestic Violence in Devon
Domestic violence scene
Domestic violence: not as hidden as it was
Police, social services, local councils and domestic violence charities have grouped together in Devon to tackle the issue of domestic abuse. Their high profile campaign is already paying dividends, with more people reporting cases.
'For Better, For Worse' is a specially recorded radio play for Domestic Violence Awareness Week.

It was written by the Wolf and Water Arts company and produced by BBC Radio Devon.

The play was written in close contact with the women from North Devon's womens' refuge, drawing on their experiences.
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Part 4
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Part 5
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Voice of Experience:
Di Maynard
1st Schoolboy:
Aaron Crowe
2nd Schoolboy:
Cameron Walker
Kirstie Eyres
Male Teacher:
Vasily Filipov
Female Teacher:
Laura Newton
Joe Carter
James Roche
Laura Bowers
Linda Bucheli
Pete Smith
James Gregory
Natasha Buckley
Michaela's Story: One woman's story of violence - and how she broke free

Helpline for male victims is set up

Community Stories

News Features
Devon Domestic Violence Partnership

Useful contact numbers

Men's Advice Line and Enquiries (MALE)

Devon and Cornwall Police

Women's Aid UK

Women's Aid 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline (Free): 0808 2000 247

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Here's a few figures for you to think about: There were 7,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in Devon between October 2002 and October 2003; domestic abuse costs Devon almost £27 million a year in police, social services and medical expenses.

Nationally, more than 7,000 women and children are in refuges in any one day, and on average, three women in England are killed by their current or ex-partner every week.

Domestic violence accounts for a quarter of all violent crime, and abused women - again on average - will be assaulted 35 times before reporting it to the authorities.

One in four women will experience domestic abuse at some time in their lives.

In Devon, all the relevant authorities got together in October 2002 to launch the Devon Domestic Violence Strategy to tackle the issue.

Little Mo and Trevor in Eastenders
Little Mo fighting back against bully Trevor in Eastenders: The storyline helped to highlight the problem of domestic violence

For the first time, this brought together all the agencies so they could work together to reduce domestic violence, increase reportage, and improve services for victims.

Already, the strategy is working. In the first year of the co-ordinated approach, the number of reported incidents went up by 21% to 7,000.

This is good news, because reporting domestic violence is the first step to overcoming the cycle of abuse.

Devon Domestic Violence Co-ordinator Racheal Martin says the increased reports are welcome, but have put even more pressure on the Women's Aid groups across the county.

"We'd set a target of increasing reports by 10% over three years, and we've already exceeded that in the first year.

"But it has increased the work of the Women's Aid Outreach groups, because their referrals are up by 400% in the last year.

Rachael Martin
Rachael Martin

"The groups are working to capacity, and the success of the work means we now have to increase the support that Women's Aid gets.

"We've got to have more funding. We need to expand the service for women, and for support for children as well. Child protection is a mandatory issue."

There are five refuges for women and children in the whole of Devon - safe houses where they can stay until they find permanent accommodation.

With society now less willing to accept domestic violence, what are the chances of ever overcoming the problem completely?

"Well, the issue being raised in TV programmes like Eastenders has helped to raise the profile among the public," said Racheal.

"It's how we change views about what is a healthy attitude, and what isn't. If children see abuse in their families, we need them to see it as unacceptable so they don't repeat it.

"We'd be idealist to think we'll get rid of domestic violence, but we must at least think that one day it may be possible."

Read how one Devon woman overcame years of domestic abuse, in Michaela's Story. >>>

And this isn't just a women's issue. Men also suffer domestic abuse, and a helpline set up in Plymouth is getting calls from all over the country. Read about the work of the MALE Devon helpline.

If you want to get in touch with any of Devon's Women's Aid Outreach groups, or with Rachael Martin, click onto the 'Useful Contact Numbers' link on the left of this page.

The contact numbers also include refuges, Victim Support, NSPCC helpline, Samaritans, a helpline for young women, and Social Services (out of hours).

We also link to the Devon and Cornwall Police website.

Article first published: January 2004

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