Leeds City Council’s Safer Leeds team is working in partnership with Leeds United to encourage everyone in the city to support campaigns to end violence against women.
The council and football club have joined forces for this year’s 16 Days of Action and White Ribbon campaigns, which will raise awareness of domestic abuse and encourage men to promise that they will not commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.
The 16 Days of Action campaign runs from 25 November to 10 December and this year focuses on the signs of coercive and controlling behaviour and stalking which are often not recognised as behaviours of domestic abuse. This can be all the more difficult for people who are reliant on the person controlling them for their care and support, people who for example, need the person to make them meals, or to help them out of bed or to leave the house; or for people, such as those with learning disabilities or dementia who may find it harder to understand what is happening or to speak up for themselves.
The first day of the campaign, 25 November, is also White Ribbon Day which is the international day to end violence against women. Leeds United have shown their support for the White Ribbon and The 16 Days of Action with the creation of a short film to raise awareness of the spikes in violence against women during sporting events. The film features a variety of first-team players as well as a warning from one survivor whose son was killed as a result of domestic violence. The film will be shown on the big screen at Elland Road, 30 November, before Leeds United play Middlesbrough, with the players wearing the White Ribbon during the warm up.
A conference will also be held at Elland Road on the Monday 2 December as part of the wider campaign. The conference will be attended by survivors of domestic violence, stakeholders and health experts and will explore the risk factors associated with stalking and coercive control, increase awareness and improve understanding in order to improve support for those affected.
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said:
“As the executive lead for community safety I am delighted that here in Leeds we are proactively supporting the ‘16 Days of Action’ against domestic violence and abuse campaign. This is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of stalking and coercive controlling behaviour as we need more people to understand and recognise that domestic abuse isn’t just about physical violence; coercive control has featured in a high number of domestic homicide reviews where the victims have never knowingly experienced any form of physical violence.
“During the campaign we will be hosting a conference in partnership with Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board which will bring together practitioners to raise awareness of how we can improve support to victims, including those with additional care and support needs. Ultimately, it is through engaging with campaigns such as this that we will hopefully encourage more people to come forward and report it.”
Richard Jones CBE, Independent Chair of Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board said:
“I am so pleased that we have been able to come together to shine a light on coercion and control, to raise awareness and work together support those experiencing domestic abuse.”
Lynne Chambers, Interim Head of Service Children and Adult Safeguarding said:
“Leeds Community Healthcare work with Safer Leeds to support the embedding of the Domestic Violence and Abuse Strategy UK. We are working with all of our partners towards ending violence for women and girls but also acknowledging that in some cases men are also subject to abuse.
“We are privileged to be supporting the Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board and Safer Leeds coercive control conference in December. One of our members of staff will be sharing a personal family tragic event born from domestic violence and abuse with a view to raising awareness of coercive control to conference attendees and our local community.”
Research has shown that women make up the majority of victims of domestic violence and abuse, particularly high risk or severe domestic abuse, however, it is recognised that men can also be victims and help and support is available for everyone.
Domestic abuse does not just mean physical violence. It can be any case of psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. Women are more likely to experience higher levels of fear and are more likely to be subjected to coercive and controlling behaviours (Dobash & Dobash, 2004; Hester, 2013; Myhill, 2015; Myhill, 2017).
One study found that 95 out of 100 domestic abuse survivors reported experiencing coercive control. (Kelly et al, 2014). Another study found that women are far more likely than men to be victims of abuse that involves ongoing degradation and frightening threats – two key elements of coercive control. (Myhill, 2015).