The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW), in cooperation with the DPJ Foundation and police forces across Wales, is putting the spotlight on an increase in domestic violence in all of our communities since the Covid 19 restrictions came into place last year.
There are many consequences of domestic abuse, including the development of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, and the FUW made a commitment to keep the spotlight on mental health issues for as long as it remains a problem in our rural communities and the last 12 months have been tough for many.
For many people home is not a place of safety and Covid-19 restrictions have increased the isolation suffered by many which is often exacerbated in our rural communities. It has also been more difficult for victims of domestic abuse to seek help at a time when incidence of domestic abuse has increased, which is even more acute in some of our isolated rural communities.
According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales from March 2020 to 2021 there had been a 7% growth in police recorded domestic abuse crime but support services have seen a bigger rise, with many victims not seeking justice through the criminal justice system. Victim support have seen a 12% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases referred and many charities such as the DPJ foundation have seen an increase in calls regarding domestic abuse over this time.
As part of the campaign, the FUW will provide Domestic Abuse Training to all staff to better understand domestic abuse and how to sign post people to specialist support.
Launching the campaign at Usk Show on Saturday 11 September, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “Much awareness raising has been carried out over the past 5 years and progress has been steady in raising awareness and confidence in our farming community that it is ok not to be ok and that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but necessary in order for our farmers and their families to remain strong.
“However, for our minds to be healthy, we also need to be in healthy environments and surround ourselves with people who can help us, not abuse us. Given these sad statistics on domestic abuse, we are joining forces with our charity The DPJ Foundation and police forces across Wales to help raise awareness of what constitutes domestic violence and how you can get the help you need.”
The UK government’s definition of domestic violence is ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.’
DPJ Foundation Charity Manager Kate Miles said: “At the DPJ Foundation, we provide a confidential helpline to people who want to talk, who need help or who may be struggling with their mental health. Calls can be on any issue and during and following the coronavirus lockdowns, we did see an increase in calls and enquiries relating to domestic abuse. As a result we have provided our volunteers with training in Domestic Abuse Awareness which means that they can support those people who are calling that may be in an abusive relationship, whether they realise it or not.”
Unfortunately, anyone can suffer from domestic abuse – it is not just those who are weak and not just women. “We receive calls from men who are being controlled or abused by their partners and I feel it is important that we all recognise what can be abusive behaviour. We also have supported people who are experiencing abuse within their family, between generations,” added Kate Miles.
Behaving in an abusive way can also be a sign of poor mental health – and getting help for your mental health can lead to a positive change in behaviour. “We want to encourage anyone who is worried about their own or someone else’s behaviour to seek help. This can be done confidentially and we will not judge you or them. Our volunteers and counsellors can support you to get help regardless of whether you are the victim or perpetrator,” she added.
Wales Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator, Rob Taylor, said: “Domestic violence, whether it be physical or mental, holds no boundaries. Men and women of all ages and backgrounds can become victims and it’s certainly not confined to urban areas. It is so important that we can reach out to our rural communities to offer support to those who are isolated and suffering unnecessarily. No one should feel alone and it is vital that we get the message across that there are people from many areas and organisations within Wales who can help. In my new role as Welsh Rural Police Coordinator I will ensure that the best possible service is available to those in our rural communities to help those who need us, by pulling together the incredible people here that we have here in Wales.”