VICTIMS of domestic violence are being urged not to “suffer in silence” in a new city-wide campaign.
The Speak Up Speak Out initiative has been launched by the city council, NHS Lothian and Police Scotland in the run-up to Christmas – when incidents typically increase.
A tough crackdown since the launch of Police Scotland has already seen prosecutions increase.
And now the three groups hope to appeal to victims of abuse by raising awareness of the help that is available.
Councillor Cammy Day, vice convener of health, social care and housing, said speaking up could drastically improve the quality of someone’s life.
He said: “There are a shocking 5500 reported cases of domestic abuse in Edinburgh each year, but we know that the real figure is likely to be significantly higher, once you add in all the incidences which go unreported. Nobody should have to suffer domestic abuse, whatever form it takes.
“With this campaign, we are reaching out to women and children affected by domestic abuse, or anyone who has concerns about others who are being harmed in this way, urging them to Speak up and Speak out.
“We know sometimes people are afraid they will end up making the situation worse by reporting it, but this is not the case. All calls will be treated sensitively and seriously.”
The campaign has been welcomed by charity Scottish Women’s Aid – but only if the correct support measures are in place for the victim. Manager Lily Greenan said responsibilty to recognise signs of domestic abuse was down to everyone and the focus cannot solely be on those suffering.
She said: “Campaigns that raise awareness are always welcome, especially at this time of year when there’s always a big focus on it.
“It’s a worthy initiative that will hopefully be backed up by training, so the professional response measures up to the message they are sending out.
“For women who have spoken up and not been helped, it won’t mean much. I hope they have the referral information in place so they can be referred to get the help they need.”
The first phase – which has been launched today with other anti-abuse campaigns White Ribbon Day and the start of 16 Days of Action – focuses on women and children.
It will be promoted with a series of radio ads, leaflets and posters that are being put up in public places including libraries and hospitals across the Capital, to give details of who can help. Lesley Johnston, public health practitioner for NHS Lothian, said: “The physical, emotional and psychological consequences of all forms of abuse can be profound and damaging both in the short and longer term.”
Earlier this year, a Police Scotland initiative saw violent partners reported to the Crown Office more than double.
Detective Inspector Dougie Moran said: “We are committed to rigorous enforcement in order to ensure that those guilty of carrying out such crimes are brought to justice.
“In addition to year-round enforcement, a number of campaigns have been launched across Scotland, which reinforces our work with key partner agencies to share information and expertise.”