A CAMPAIGN to raise awareness of domestic abuse is being launched by Dorset Police.

The campaign, which looks into the emotional and psychological impact of controlling and coercive behaviour, aims to reassure people that despite Covid-19 restrictions, access to police and support services remains available.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, Martyn Underhill said: "The pandemic has had a particularly corrosive impact on victims of domestic abuse, leaving them much more isolated and forcing them to stay at home with their abusers.

"As we get used to the harsh realities of the third lockdown, it’s vital victims realise help is out there for them and they don’t have to put up with abuse of any kind.

"In announcing the new restrictions, the Prime Minister even listed escaping domestic abuse as one of the legal reasons for leaving your home during the lockdown – highlighting just how serious this issue is."

The campaign will use a poem, released verse by verse at regular intervals throughout the campaign, to illustrate the story arc of an abusive relationship.

The poem will use contributions from survivors of domestic abuse, which will be invited via social media.

People will be able to watch the poem develop and see the completed poem at the end of the campaign on social media and Dorset Police's website.

Once completed, the poem will be turned into a video featuring survivors of abuse.

The video will then be used to help further raise awareness around abusive relationships and encourage those suffering abuse to report to police and to seek help.

Sergeant Alan Marks of Dorset Police, said: "We hope this campaign will encourage those suffering abuse to seek help from both police and partner agencies. It is important that victims know how and where to get advice and support. We encourage people to report any incidents by phone or online via the Force website."

Domestic abuse survivor, Becky (not her real name) said: "As a survivor of abuse with a young child, I have experienced the type of cruelty and manipulation an abuser uses to control a victim.

"At first my ex was a real gentleman and a good listener. The abuse started with him criticising me for spending money on my nails, then we started arguing and the name calling began. Then it got more physical and he made threats to hurt me more. The abuse was a combination of physical, emotional and psychological abuse. I felt as if I could do nothing right. He moved us away from friends and family. I didn’t drive at the time either so felt really isolated. It all ended very violently and I was lucky to escape with my life.

"I know that other people experience similar things in an abusive relationship, and I’m keen that others don’t suffer what I did, which is why I am supporting this campaign. I hope that by creating this poem, people will understand how abuse happens and get help if they are in an abusive relationship."

The campaign will be rolled out via digital channels and will include mobile phone banner messaging.

Signposting for help will be provided to the Dorset Police website, which lists the agencies that can provide help and support.

The campaign aims to raise awareness that domestic abuse may increase with people self isolating, and to reassure people that help is available during these unprecedented times.

Crime can be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via its website: www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Help and advice around domestic abuse, together with a list of agencies who can help can found at: www.dorset.police.uk/da

The You First Trust 24 hour Freephone number is 0800 032 5204.

Alternatively, visit @YouFirstUK on Twitter or facebook.com/YouFirstTogether.

In an emergency, always dial 999.