Campaign to get people talking about domestic violence

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People across Leeds are being encouraged to get comfortable talking about domestic violence and abuse to help more victims and their families seek the help and support they need.

A new campaign organised by Leeds City Council, which starts tomorrow, is asking the people of Leeds to pose any questions they have about domestic violence and abuse - to get the city talking about it more openly.

In order to draw attention to the campaign, which will coincide with the International ’16 days of action’ campaign running from 25th Nov to 10th Dec, orange cushions and sofas have been appearing all over the city with the reminder to ‘Get comfortable talking about it….’.

The idea behind the campaign is to encourage people to think, talk and ask questions about domestic violence and abuse as well as identifying the key issues, barriers and fears, so that the council and its partners can address them and make people feel more confident about getting help, or helping someone they know who is affected by domestic violence and abuse.

The campaign will also raise awareness of the help that is available to any person affected by domestic violence so they can receive the help they need, as well as where anyone who has any concerns or questions about domestic violence, be it friends, family members, colleagues, employees as well as those who themselves are abusers, can go for help and advice.

In 2014, there were nearly 15,000 incidents of domestic violence and abuse reported to the police in Leeds, but the true scale of the issue is not known as it is likely that many more went unreported. It is also estimated that one in four women will experience domestic violence and abuse at some point in their lives.

Coun Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for children and families said: “We are determined to do everything possible to help everyone affected by domestic violence and abuse in Leeds, including children, to be safe and feel safe.

“There are lots of organisations in Leeds who can help so we want everyone to feel more comfortable in talking about it openly so it doesn’t go unreported and everyone gets the help they need.

“Consultation with members of the public tells us that the biggest barrier to getting help or reporting domestic violence and abuse is fear of the repercussions around personal safety or making the situation worse. This applies to victims, witnesses and others who may be affected. Lots of people simply don’t know what will happen if they talk to someone or report domestic violence and abuse, or how they can help someone they know who is affected by it.

“This is why we are encouraging everyone, through this campaign to be more open about it, ask questions, and find out what help is available - whether you are affected yourself or think you know someone who may be.”

Throughout the campaign the people of Leeds are able to ask any questions they have about domestic violence and abuse – either by email to: getcomfortable@leeds.gov.uk, via Twitter to @LCC_News, or by posting a question in our special letterboxes in community hubs in Middleton, Armley and Harehills. Domestic violence support experts will look at every question asked, identify the key topics, and from 10 December will respond publicly to these.

‘Get comfortable talking about it’ cushions can be found across the city on seats in local one stop centres, community hubs, children’s centres, leisure centres, some GP practices, across the city centre, and even on park benches. As well as the cushions campaign, sofas are placed in key locations across the city including the community hubs and Leeds city centre, to help visitors to ‘get comfortable’ and talk about domestic violence.

Experts from many different organisations, including the police, health services, safeguarding, children’s services and third sector, who work with people affected by domestic violence, will also be answering questions on the main issues raised by members of the public, on the campaign website: www.getcomfortable.org.uk.

For help and advice people can visit: www.leedsdomesticviolenceandabuse.co.uk or contact the Leeds Domestic Violence Service 24 hour help line on 0113 2460401. In case of immediate danger people should call 999.