When Victim Support domestic abuse projects officer Jenny Bull read the first of 16 stories she’d commissioned to raise awareness of the issue, she wept.
“I’m used to hearing about victims of violence but I was still moved to tears,” she confessed.
“It was written by the new manager of a children’s centre who’d never had to deal with the problem before.
“She became aware that the grandfather of one little boy was very concerned about his daughter and her children.
“It quickly escalated and suddenly the manager was involved in trips to the hospital in the back of a police car, awful injuries and emotional distress.
“In her first year in the role, she supported 164 families suffering this sort of experience.
“She said: ‘It never gets any easier. You just want to make everything OK but you need a strong will to maintain a professional boundary.
“‘Working with a team of people passionate to support families but understanding when things can’t or won’t change immediately has been inspirational to me.’”
The 16 stories come from women from all walks of life - from those who’ve been abused to those who support them. There’s even a heartbreaking poem from one young victim, now a youth worker, who wrote: “Violence, control, abuse. Jealousy, alcohol misuse. This is the story of my childhood. Apologies. Tears. Excuse.”
Jenny has been at the forefront of the 16 day campaign that started in Luton on November 25 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – and will finish on December 10 – International Human Rights Day.
She said: “We want to highlight the links between violence against women and human rights. There’s something happening in Luton every single day for 16 days to focus on that.
“We want to make perpetrators think about their actions and get help so their lives and those of them around them can change for the better.
“We want to raise awareness of domestic abuse – psychological, emotional, sexual and financial, as well as physical – and we want to get everyone of all ages thinking about it, especially any men affected.
“We want to encourage everyone to sign The White Ribbon pledge ‘never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence or abuse in all its forms.’”
Luton’s 16 days of action included the launch last Friday of a new domestic abuse information line and website for people living or working in the Luton area.
> More at www.lutondomesticabuse.co.uk/news