Silent sufferers in danger

A Generic photo of a woman who has been the victim of domestic violence. See PA Feature WOMAN Violence. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/JupiterImages Corporation. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature WOMAN Violence.
A Generic photo of a woman who has been the victim of domestic violence. See PA Feature WOMAN Violence. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/JupiterImages Corporation. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature WOMAN Violence.
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More than 20,000 Sheffield women could be enduring domestic violence every day.

For the vast majority the humiliation, pain and torment goes on behind closed doors and could forever remain their secret.

And as the recession bites and Christmas nears, the silent sufferers are in even more danger.

Last year, there were just 9,282 incidents of domestic abuse in Sheffield recorded by police in an entire 12 months, a third of which were repeat attacks - the tip of the iceberg, domestic abuse workers say today, on International Day to End Violence Towards Women,

Those who stay silent are at risk of more serious injury, or even death, Sheffield workers warn.

Every week in the UK, two women are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner. Across South Yorkshire last year, seven women were killed by male partners or ex-partners.

“We have to acknowledge that the recession is putting people under more stress. That may be a trigger for domestic abuse,” warns Alison Higgins, Sheffield City Council’s Domestic Abuse Partnership Manager.

“Plus in the post Christmas and New Year period, domestic abuse services are always at their busiest.

“People try to keep going through Christmas. We see people seeking support when the festivities are over and the bills come in.”

Experts estimate that one in ten women experience physical or emotional abuse from a partner at some time in their lives. There are over 200,000 women in Sheffield and over 20,000 of them could well be suffering behind closed doors.

Maureen Storey, Director of VIDA Sheffield said: “The women we work with are the tip of an iceberg we don’t know the size of, as so much violence against women is still kept hidden.

“By the time they contact specialist domestic and sexual abuse services, or the police are called, women will have experienced repeated assaults and years of abuse.”

Today’s End To Violence Against Women Day, a United Nations-sponsored event, urges male and female supporters to make their stand by wearing a white ribbon.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, who visited city domestic violence service Ashiana this week, said: “Involving men in preventing violence against women is vital and the White Ribbon Campaign is to be applauded.”

n Specially trained domestic and sexual abuse workers helped over 2,000 Sheffield women last year, giving support on the phone or face to face support.

will be published next spring.