A NEW report published by Public Health England South West has revealed that empowering people to intervene when they witness unacceptable behaviour can help to prevent domestic abuse and intimate partner and sexual violence.

The ‘Interventions to prevent intimate partner and sexual violence report’ was published in partnership with Public Health Wales, PHE West Midlands, the University of Exeter and the University of West England.

The report highlights the important role bystander intervention programmes play in equipping people with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely intervene when they are witness to or have concerns about domestic abuse and violence.

Tracy Daszkiewicz Deputy Director of Population Health & Wellbeing for Public Health England South West said: “Preventing violence is everyone’s business.

“This report highlights how bystander interventions can empower people to take action in their communities and prevent abuse from occurring.

“It’s all about helping people to find their own way to make an impact and a difference.”

Intimate partner or sexual violence can be devastating and have a lifelong impact.

The harmful effects include damages to your physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, behavioural problems such as alcohol and drug misuse and an increased use of health services.

Tackling violence and its root causes can improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities while also having a positive impact on the economy.

A Home Office report estimated the economic and social costs of domestic abuse, placing the annual cost at £66 billion.

Lara Snowdon, Public Health Specialist in Violence Prevention at Public Health Wales and author of the report, said: “There is a range of exciting research emerging in the UK focusing on effective practice in preventing violence.

“Bystander interventions, which aim to empower the community to prevent violence, are a great example of that.

“The PHE toolkit provides an overview of the theory and evidence for bystander interventions and is a useful resource for local commissioners and practitioners to implement these innovative programmes.

“Our current research in Public Health Wales explores how Covid-19 has changed bystander experiences and behaviours to domestic abuse. This research will provide us with rich insight into how we can prevent domestic abuse during the pandemic and in the longer term.”

During November 25 to December 12, 2020, Public Health England and organisations across the South West supported the 16 Days of Action movement by calling on employers to make a commitment to tackling domestic abuse.

During the campaign, there were 880 visits to the South West Survivor Pathway, an invaluable online resource designed to support professionals working with survivors - and their families, friends, colleagues and employers - to help them access services across the South West.

The website signposts to a range of specialist organisations accessible to anyone who has experienced sexual violence and abuse.