Stopping the cycle of abuse in Somerset

25 November 2016

Domestic abuse is more common than you think. One in four women and one in six men will experience it at some point in their lives. If applied to Somerset’s population that would equate to around 43,000 female and 23,000 male victims.

The Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (SIDAS) supports men, women and children affected by domestic abuse. Commissioned by Somerset County Council, and run by us and Barnardo’s, the service last year worked with more than 1,900 people, providing safe accommodation and support services.

Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we're launching a campaign to raise awareness and address the issue of domestic abuse in Somerset.  

‘Stop the cycle of abuse’ is an animated social media campaign aimed at perpetrators in Somerset, asking them to question their behaviour towards their partners, and to think about the impact it’s having on their children.

Melanie Thomson, our Strategic Business Manager for Supported Housing said: “Domestic abuse comes in many forms including physical, emotional and sexual, and it impacts everyone including family and friends, and especially children.

In 2015/16 over 2,000 victims were referred into the service. This means that there are over 2,000 perpetrators in Somerset who need support to change their behaviour. Many services work only with victims, but SIDAS offers a family approach, helping those who are abusing to address their behaviour, and working with the children who witness it. There’s often a ‘cycle of abuse’ where a child who witnesses abuse, goes on to have abusive relationships when they’re older, as they perceive this behaviour to be the ‘norm’. We need this to change.

We’re hoping that our campaign touches the heart and encourages more perpetrators to come forward for help.”

Michael Hammond, Somerset Locality Manager at Barnardos, added: “Most perpetrators don’t realise the effect their behaviour has on their children. When they do realise how traumatising it is to grow up in a household affected by domestic abuse, and how this impacts so negatively on a child’s development, it can be hugely motivating for a perpetrator willing to change their behaviour.”

Cllr. Anna Groskop, Cabinet Member for health and wellbeing, Somerset County Council said: “We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Knightstone and Barnardo's on this important campaign.

Domestic abuse is everyone’s business. Anyone living in Somerset who needs help or information for themselves or a friend or family member can contact SIDAS in confidence.”

To view the animation, or to find out more about the campaign and SIDAS click here.