Domestic abuse in rural areas
Avon and Somerset Police are encouraging those living in rural communities to look out for the signs of domestic abuse, as a recent report reveals survivors living in more isolated rural areas are less likely to report it or ask for help.
The report was published by the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN), of which the Avon & Somerset force are members.
There are some disturbing fin dings highlighted. Not least that abuse lasts, on average 25% longer in rural locations. That may not be a surprise given the isolated nature of many communities.
But it is also a concern that victims half as likely to report abuse.
Between 2016 and 2018 we logged an 8.3% increase in the total number of reported domestic abuse cases in Avon and Somerset, reflecting an improvement in police response and growing confidence in victims to report to us.
Those living in rural areas are at high risk of under-reporting for a number of reasons. These include lack of access to available services due to location, fear of reprisals from tight-knit communities, as well as the stigma and shame associated with domestic abuse.
Meanwhile Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council added her thoughts: “Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and from every walk of life. The signs of domestic abuse are often difficult to spot, and it can take a whole range of physical and emotional forms. If you are worried about someone, remember that if something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t. Don’t ignore a gut feeling or the small signs, but seek professional advice first before you try to help.”
These are some of the signs you should be aware of in an abusive relationship:
- One partner is violent or threatening towards the other
- One partner criticises the other and puts them down
- A partner is controlling about what the other partner does, where they go, who they see or what they spend
- One partner feels afraid of the other
- One partner thinks they are to blame for the way the other treats them
- One partner feels embarrassed when friends and family see how the other partner treats them
And a few signs someone you know may be in an abusive relationship:
- They withdraw from their circle of friends and do less with other people
- They receive lots of phone calls or texts from their partner when they are not with them
- They become anxious when they might be home late or plans change
- They have unexplained bruises or physical injuries.