West Yorkshire Police domestic abuse appeal ahead of Valentine's Day

Police are appealing ahead of February 14.
Police are appealing ahead of February 14.

West Yorkshire Police is urging people to watch out for signs of domestic abuse around Valentine's Day.

The force said that 152 domestic incidents were reported to the police on February 14 last year, and are particularly appealing to family, friends and neighbours who suspect someone close to them may be the victim of physical abuse - or coercive or controlling behaviour - to report concerns.

Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said: “While many people may see Valentine’s Day as a time to show their affection, unfortunately for some people living in West Yorkshire it represents just another day of physical or psychological abuse at the hands of a loved one.

“No-one should have to live in fear, particularly in their own home. We know from experience though that it can be extremely hard for victims themselves to come forward or that equally they may not even see themselves as a victim or don’t realise that the behaviour they are being subjected to is actually abuse.

"That is why we need the people close to them to contact the police if they have any concerns.”

She added: “People may think they know the signs to look out for of domestic abuse, but it’s not all cuts and bruises. Abuse comes in many forms, but it is never acceptable.

“Something that may seem like harmless behaviour in isolation, can have devastating effects on a victim when they are subjected to repeated controlling behaviour.

“It may be that you notice that the partner or another family member of someone you know repeatedly puts them down, humiliates or degrades them, or seems to have control over their everyday behaviour, including limiting their access to money or controlling what they wear.

“Other signs can include the victim becoming submissive and withdrawn or suddenly breaking off contact with yourself or others. A perpetrator of domestic abuse can isolate their victim from sources of support, such as friends and family, and monitor their communication with others.

“We need people to come forward and report any concerns they may have for family members, friends and neighbours. Any reports will be treated sensitively and taken seriously.”

Perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse can be of any age or background, the force said.

The force has specially-trained safeguarding officers who can provide support and practical assistance to those who suffer domestic abuse. It also works in partnership with a wide range of statutory and voluntary groups who can provide further help and support.

Perpetrators of domestic abuse, or individuals who are concerned about emerging changes in their behaviour towards a partner or family member, can also receive help.

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said: “Whether you buy in to Valentine’s Day or not I think we can all agree that no one should be subjected to any form of abuse and especially not from those closest to them.

“It’s important to raise awareness of the fact that abuse isn’t always obvious to the victim or those around them, that’s why we’ve developed this campaign to encourage people to report concerns and get help.

“Our message is simple, if you are being abused or you suspect someone is being abused, report it immediately. We have a range of services and partners ready to support any victims and tackle offending robustly.”

More information about support available is on the West Yorkshire Police website at: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/domestic-abuse-contacts

Details about what constitutes domestic abuse and the signs to look out for is available on the West Yorkshire Police website at: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/domesticabuse

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