Domestic abuse incidents rising in Falkirk

Domestic abuse is still an ever-present problem
Domestic abuse is still an ever-present problem
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The public spotlight has been shining brightly on a dark side of our society - and campaigners have been quick to welcome the attention.

Incidents of reported domestic abuse are rising, both nationally and locally.

But the zero-tolerance approach to violence between couples has new allies - a lot of media attention and Scotland’s top cop putting it at the top of his agenda.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Stephen House has declared that domestic abuse is Scotland’s ‘‘national shame’’ and is determined to tackle the issue.

And, just a few weeks ago, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson was pictured apparently being assaulted by her husband in London.

Now Falkirk campaigners hope it will result in a big perception shift in people who dismiss abuse as “a little domestic”.

Chris Murphy, manager at Falkirk and District’s Women’s Aid, said: “People have seen a woman who is very successful, bright and articulate experiencing something like this.

“It may help people to change their perception that this only happens to a certain type of person.

“I think that anything that gives rise to a debate about what we are prepared to accept in our society has to be seen as a positive thing.

“What’s important to say about domestic abuse is that it doesn’t respect class or locality or time of the year.

“It’s prevalent at all times and in all groups, particularly with women, although we are seeing a relatively small number of men experiencing domestic abuse.

“It is mostly women who are the victims, even women in same sex relationships.

“The most important thing to stress is that people must never feel that they are on their own, but that they know there is help out there.

“If people want to speak to us, then they can set the agenda.

“We are not going to say ‘you must leave your partner’, it’s about support.

“It’s their choice what they want to do; if they want to stay with their partner then we’ll look at options to help them do that.

“Victims have probably spent years and years being controlled by their partner, so the last thing we are going to do is take control over their decisions.”

Traditionally, incidents of reported domestic abuse have peaked during Christmas and New Year, bank holidays and, in Central Scotland, around Old Firm games.

But even though Celtic v Rangers matches are temporarily off the cards, there’s been more cases reported, perhaps triggered by new stressful situations.

In just one day last week - Independence Day - Falkirk Police arrested four people in connection with domestic abuse.

Since the new national force came into being, tackling domestic abuse is one of six priorities for local policing.

Mandy Paterson, community inspector in Falkirk said: “The tweets reinforce the message that domestic abuse is prevalent and that it is a focus for us.

“We now have a domestic abuse unit with four DCs and a DS who are carrying out investigations and follow-ups on a daily basis.

“I find that victims sometimes don’t want to come forward because they fear their situation will get worse, but when I hear what has been happened, I wonder how can it get worse?

“It’s only after they contact us or other support agencies and get advice that the realise the help available to them.”