Help Available For Domestic Abuse Victims

Islanders have places to turn for help and support if they are at the receiving end of domestic violence.

That’s the message from Scilly and Cornwall’s Violence Strategic Coordinator, Michelle Davies, who had her first islands’ meeting with Police, welfare and health workers yesterday.

She wants to work closely with the islands’ 18-month-old Domestic Abuse Forum to tackle local cases of physical attacks, verbal and online bullying.

Michelle says domestic abuse happens everywhere, no matter if you live in a city or a small rural community like ours.

And that abuse comes in many forms, not just violent. She says it can be emotional, psychological and financial. There is also a growing problem of grooming and exploitation of victims over the internet.

Contrary to popular view, it’s not just women on the receiving end. 12% of the victims are men and when a victim finally makes a complaint, he or she has suffered from an average of 32 incidents.

Michelle says it’s difficult to predict the incidence of domestic abuse here on the islands because it is often underreported. She says the statistics show that there are fewer reports of abuse here than on the mainland but the underreporting means they are always uncertain of those numbers.

The small, tight-knit community of Scilly can also provide some challenges getting people to come forward, but she wants to make sure people know that any information will be dealt with confidentially and that they will be believed.

Michelle says people are often not aware that they can go through different routes to report domestic abuse, not just through the Police. Other than the Police, people can get help through their GP, a teacher or the various Social Care Services on the islands.

And they can provide discreet helpline services, or can meet victims in less obvious places, like a coffee shop, to avoid letting the perpetrators of the violence know that they’re receiving help.

Michelle says yesterday’s meeting with the agencies on the islands was positive.