Violent attacks are soaring in the county

Katrina Teggart

Debi Wiffen

First published in News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

VICTIMS called police at least once an hour to report they were being attacked by a relative or lover during a a campaign to tackle domestic violence.

There were almost 1,500 reports of domestic abuse in Oxfordshire over nine weeks in May and July – up by seven per cent on last year.

Last night people behind the campaign said they believed the rise was due to more people coming forward to report attacks.

And a victim of domestic violence said greater awareness meant it was becoming less of a taboo subject to report.

Police launched the 62-day campaign in partnership with Crimestoppers and local campaigners to encourage people to come forward.

The police detective tasked with targeting domestic abuse said she believed the increase was due to more victims coming forward, although it was impossible to prove.

Det Supt Nora Holford, Thames Valley Police ’s head of protecting vulnerable people, said: “An increase in reports of domestic abuse in a certain context could mean there are more incidents of it.

“But we are fairly certain that this increase is because of the campaign. That’s because the increase is so stark.”

Between May 14, 2012, and July 14, 2012, there were 1,495 reported cases of domestic abuse in Oxfordshire – 108 more than during the same period last year.

Judge Julian Hall , former resident judge at Oxford Crown Court, has spoken out about the need for more victims to come forward.

Reacting to the results of the latest campaign, he said: “People hold back about reporting domestic abuse through fear of being thought to be interfering.

“It is unlikely that there is more domestic abuse taking place and it is much more likely that there is more reporting of it, which is a good thing.”

The campaign included putting up posters and taking out adverts across the county to direct victims, neighbours or other family members to a dedicated website encouraging them to report violence and offering help and support.

Liz Jones, the domestic abuse co-ordinator for Oxford City Council , worked on the campaign.

She said: “More people are coming forward to the police earlier rather than waiting until is becomes so serious.” Across the Thames Valley region there was an increase in reports of domestic abuse by eight per cent – the other counties in the region, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, saw an increase of four per cent and 12 per cent respectively. It comes as popular soap Coronation Street includes a storyline featuring the violent relationship between characters Tyrone Dobbs and his fiancee Kirsty Soames.

Katrina Teggart, 47, from Witney, suffered a series of violent attacks at the hands of her husband Darren.

Last year at Oxford Crown Court he was jailed for 40 weeks after being convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm.

Mrs Teggart, a mother of two, said: “The more people are aware that there is help out there for people to get, the better.

“In the past domestic abuse has been such a taboo subject.

“If you know someone in that sort of relationship, coming forward and offering help gives that person more confidence to feel that there are people out there who will believe them.

“Just being believed is one of the main things.”

Mrs Teggart’s husband, from Burwell Drive, Witney, pushed a pint glass into her face in June 2010 and admitted battery on two other occasions, in 1999 and again in 2003.

Debi Wiffen, from Witney, works with women’s group Eve helping victims.

The 45-year-old said: “The figures are not clear about what is going on.

“There is still a huge misconception about what domestic abuse is.

“Some people might not believe it is happening to them or don’t think it is that bad.

“These figures are only a good thing if there is the support for the women at the end of it. Is there the practical help for them?

“Things have improved in attitudes towards domestic abuse.

“There is no shame in being a victim of it and you can get back in control of your life.”

Thames Valley Police said it could not identify how many incidents were against men and how many against women.

The website launched during the campaign – www.speakouttoday.co.uk – gives information and contacts for support services and is staying online.

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