Avon and Somerset Police have this week launched a new campaign to encourage those living in rural communities to look out for the signs of domestic abuse, as a recent report reveals survivors living in more isolated rural areas are less likely to report it or ask for help.

According to the report, which was published by the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN), abuse lasts, on average 25% longer in rural locations with victims half as likely to report abuse.

Between 2016 and 2018 we logged an 8.3% increase in the total number of reported domestic abuse cases in Avon and Somerset, reflecting an improvement in police response and growing confidence in victims to report to us.

However, those living in rural areas are still at high risk of under-reporting for a number of reasons such as: lack of access to available services due to location, fear of reprisals from tight-knit communities, as well as the stigma and shame associated with domestic abuse.

Superintendent Deryck Rees, Avon and Somerset Police force lead for Domestic Abuse, comments: “In support of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, we are encouraging those living in rural locations to be aware of the signs of domestic abuse and how to report.”

“It’s not always easy to immediately recognise the signs that someone being abused. But, if you notice something isn’t quite right with a friend, neighbour, or someone from your community, we urge you to look, listen, ask and ask again.”

“Some of the things to look out for could be your friend being texted an inappropriate number of times by their partner when they aren’t together, sudden lack of contact from someone, or over-hearing abusive language from neighbours during an argument.”

“Throughout the 16 Days of Activism we want to send the message that domestic abuse isn’t something limited to urban areas, it can happen anywhere, and to anyone.  We all have a responsibility to look out for the signs of someone being manipulated and abused.

If you do decide you would like to speak to the police you can call 101. Or you can get advice from specialist services in your area. If you or someone else is in immediate danger – call 999.”

For more information about organisations and services for domestic abuse victims, please visit:  www.thisisnotanexcuse.org