‘People could save themselves so much tragedy’ – Domestic violence campaign launched in Norwich

A week-long campaign urging victims of domestic violence to speak out and seek support was launched this morning.

Key agencies including the police and Norfolk County Council signed a commitment to continue tackling abuse as part of the Norfolk Says No White Ribbon campaign, led by the Norfolk Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Board.

Charities, community groups and religious leaders were also present at today's launch at the Forum, where they added their message to a large white ribbon chalked on the ground.

The White Ribbon initiative is encouraging older people to speak out about domestic abuse and, like the Norwich Evening News's own Don't Suffer in Silence campaign, offers support to all victims.

Henry Cator, the High Sheriff of Norfolk, said it was vital victims knew where to turn, particularly in rural communities.

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'Many people, particularly older people, are virtually imprisoned in their own homes because their partners bully them and prevent them from doing the things they want to do,' he said.

'It's a miserable existence and it's time all of us stood up to make people aware this unacceptable behaviour is going on.'

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Of the 430 cases of domestic abuse referred to Norfolk Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MARAC) between April and September, only 23 involved victims over the age of 55 – and police believe the problem is under-reported.

Liz Righton, 51, suffered abuse for two years as a teenager and said the effects had stayed with her for over 30 years, until she sought help from the Sweet Arts women's charity six months ago.

She presented an exhibition of her photography, which document some of the emotions arising from her past, at the launch event.

Ms Righton said: 'There is so much help available, but it needs to be publicised and highlighted.

'I have had so many problems that stemmed from the abuse.

'If people feel able to speak out they could save themselves so much tragedy and problems of every kind.'

In the year to March 2012, 12,988 domestic incidents were reported, up from 11,560 the year before.

See www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk, email info@whiteribboncampaign.co.uk or call 01422 886545.

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