More than 800 people trained in Norfolk to help victims of domestic abuse

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Employers in Norfolk are being enlisted for a new county-wide network to make sure that the victims of domestic violence get help before reaching crisis point.

Domestic abuse is more than just physical violence: it comes in many forms and can sometimes be hidden away.

It is estimated that victims of domestic abuse visit as many as five services before they get the support they need.

The Domestic Abuse Champions Network, jointly funded by Norfolk County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner, has provided free training across the region for frontline professionals over the past two years.

The two-day training provides domestic abuse 'champions' the resources and network links they need to recognise and respond to domestic abuse.

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Champions are made aware of the barriers victims face when trying to leave an abusive relationship and the coercive methods perpetrators use to normalise violent behaviour.

These can range from threats to take children or pets away, as most refuges do not allow animals and victims do not want to leave them behind.

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Signs to look out for can be as simple as victims constantly looking at the clock, not turning up to appointments or giving implausible explanations for injuries.

Once trained, the workplace champions can attend regular network events which provide continued learning and up-to-date research and findings.

So far a wave of almost 800 champions have been trained across the county from a wide variety of organisations, from social workers to dentists.

Domestic abuse change co-ordinators – Zoe Harding, Paula Devaux and Christen Williams – have organised more than 40 champions courses in Norfolk.

The first day of training was attended by 23 men and women including four women who are themselves domestic abuse survivors and currently volunteer for charity The Daisy Programme in Watton.

One woman said: 'It makes you more aware of what you have been through, you're passionate in wanting to help others.

'You want to help somebody because you know how hard it is to let go.'

The domestic abuse change coordinators have received additional funding to provide phase two training targeted at health and education professionals.

They are developing two new training courses for workers in GP practices, primary care settings and educational institutions across Norfolk.

The champions will become part of the wider network of Norfolk domestic abuse champions with access to network events, websites and professional consultations with the change coordinators.

Domestic abuse change coordinator Paula Devaux said: 'This training is not just about taking it to work, it's an ongoing role to get people talking.

'With phase two, we look at activities workers can run with children, practical things they can do with children on preventative measures.'

Phase two training will begin next month. To get involved email or call 07450649853.

Domestic abuse in numbers

• One in three women and one in five men experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.

• The cost of domestic abuse to the public sector in Norfolk reached £64m in 2013.

• There are 24 refuges in the UK available for male-only occupancy. There are no male-only refuges in Norfolk – the nearest is nearly 100 miles away.

• Marital rape did not become illegal until 1991 when there was no statutory definition of consent.

• 750,000 children witness domestic abuse every year in the UK and 90% of children are in the same or next room when it occurs.

• A domestic abuse incident is reported to the police in the UK every 30 seconds.

• Every week, two women are murdered by a partner or ex-partner, and 22 men are killed every year - one every three weeks.

• 90% of rape victims know their perpetrator and 80% of stalker victims know their stalker.

For help call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 or visit

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