Coming on the heels of the recently passed motion to commit to making West Oxfordshire streets safer for women and girls, the Council is marking 16 days of action against domestic abuse with a series of programmes across the District highlighting rural abuse.
A 2019 study discovered that domestic abuse in rural areas is under-reported by 50% compared to urban areas, and victims suffer for 25% longer than urban survivors.
Councillor Merilyn Davies, Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “Domestic abuse is a horrible and insidious crime that affects victims physically, emotionally and mentally.”
“Victims often feel trapped and some may suffer in silence. As a Council, we take this very seriously and we want to make sure our residents feel safe, and know how to seek help if they are being abused or know someone who is.”
The Council, through Reducing the Risk, is offering two-hour sessions free of charge for groups of 10 or more people to learn more about domestic abuse, what support is available and how they can help victims connect to that support. For those that are really passionate and want to do more for victims and survivors of domestic abuse, there are also opportunities for Domestic Abuse Champion Training, which will enable them to be more active in delivering and supporting local projects in their communities.
Covid-19 had a significant impact on victims of domestic abuse, with many unable to seek support or escape from abuse. These opportunities have been funded by West Oxfordshire District Councils’ Contain Outbreak Management Fund and will be delivered by local domestic abuse charity, Reducing the Risk.
In addition, Cut it Out, a learning event for hairdressing and beauty professionals will be held on 6 December 2021. Tickets are available for this online event through Eventbrite and for students at Abingdon and Witney College. Cut it Out is a collaboration between Thames Valley Police, West Oxfordshire Community Safety Partnership, Abingdon & Witney College and Reducing the Risk.
There are plans to stencil poignant messages in car parks across the district. The hope is that as people see them they will stop for a moment and think about the message, their friends and family. The messages will point residents to local organisations that can help should they come across someone who needs support.
More information about how the Council supports victims is available https://www.westoxon.gov.uk/communities-and-leisure/community-safety/domestic-abuse/