Domestic violence is still a ‘hidden crime’ in Northamptonshire

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The service manager at a centre in Northampton that supports victims of domestic violence says it is a crime that creates both physical and mental scars.

As part of the first ever Northamptonshire Safeguarding Week, Lucy Westley, the service manager at the Sunflower Centre in Northampton, spoke to the Chronicle & Echo about the support given to adults who are abused by their partners.

Ms Westley said the reporting of the crime was increasing in Northamptonshire but it still remained a “hidden crime”.

In total, there were 14,438 cases of domestic abuse dealt with by Northamptonshire Police last year, with 1,325 referrals to the Sunflower Centre.

One in four women and one in six men are believed to suffer domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime.

Ms Westley said: “The reporting of domestic abuse is increasing as more victims become aware of the services available.

“The definition of domestic abuse is also changing with more subtle forms such as emotional and mental abuse being included.

“Words and behaviour used to control someone can have a very big impact on individuals and have a massive impact on their self-esteem.”

Ms Westley said risk assessments were carried out of all domestic abuse victims and they were given advice on alternative accommodation and how to remove themselves from an abusive relationship.

However, Ms Westley said it could often be a long, complicated process.

She said: “Making that break can be extremely hard but we work with victims to make sure we are there for them when they are ready.”

Representatives from the Sunflower Centre will attend a safeguarding conference in Kettering on Thursday along with social workers, GPs and police.

The Twitter campaign - #safenorthants16 - is being run throughout the week to promote different aspect of the campaign.