Northern Ireland

Domestic abuse: PSNI starts new awareness campaign

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Media captionThe PSNI has created a video to raise awareness of domestic abuse

Reports of domestic abuse increase over the summer, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has warned as it launched a new awareness campaign.

The animated video explains domestic abuse can take many forms, including financial and psychological abuse as well as physical and sexual violence.

It comes just weeks after the PSNI said it received the biggest number of abuse reports in a single year.

Officers recorded 31,682 incidents between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

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Image caption Police say domestic abuse takes many forms, including verbal and psychological abuse

That equates to one report of domestic abuse every 17 minutes in Northern Ireland over the past financial year.

The latest figures, which were published in May, showed a 6% increase in domestic abuse reports, compared with the previous financial year.

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Image caption A helpline is available for abuse victims - the details are at the bottom of this article

The annual figure is now at the highest level since the PSNI began recording domestic abuse data in 2004.

Det Supt Anthony McNally from PSNI's public protection branch said the statistics "show more victims have found the strength to pick up the phone and make a report".

'Harrowing story'

But he added: "These are stark statistics and we must never forget behind each statistic is a victim with a harrowing story of abuse."

The officer said he hoped the new video would encourage more people to "recognise domestic abuse" and seek help.

The video states that domestic abuse often happens in secret, "behind closed doors".

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption The animated video focuses on the secretive nature of domestic abuse

It adds that abuse is "so embedded" in some people's lives that sometimes both victims and perpetrators are not aware that such behaviour is a criminal offence.

The PSNI defines domestic abuse as violent, abusive or "threatening, controlling, coercive behaviour" by a partner, ex-partner or family member.

That abuse can be physical; sexual; verbal; psychological; emotional or financial in nature.

'We will help'

The awareness video will be broadcast on all of the PSNI's social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Image caption Abuse victims will get support from police, says Det Supt Anthony McNally

"Very often people who are being abused don't know where to turn but I want to encourage all victims - regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation - to come forward and report the matter to us," said Det Supt McNally.

"Speak out to stop it and we will help you."

"Domestic abuse is a crime and until victims are aware there is a safe environment to share their concerns they will continue to hold on to the secret of domestic abuse."

The PSNI added: "Anyone suffering from domestic abuse should contact police on the non-emergency 101 or in an emergency call 999.

"A 24-hour domestic and sexual abuse helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual abuse, now or in the past, on 0808 802 1414."

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