A DOMESTIC abuse charity in South Tyneside has had to deal with a record number of people needing help.
South Shields-based Options dealt with a total of 104 victims of domestic abuse last month – the highest in its 17-year history.
Julie Robinson, co-ordinator of the charity, says the figure is the most they have ever seen in a single month.
She attributes the increase to more awareness of the crime, and better partnership working between agencies – leading to more victims finding the strength and courage to seek help.
Ms Robinson said: “104 referrals, is the highest we have seen in one month since the project launched in 1997, and doesn’t include individual incidents of those who have already been referred to us.
“In the past few years we have had greater awareness of the crime, and of the support which is available for victims.
“Agencies are also working together a lot more, and more referrals are being made.”
Ms Robinson has also welcomed the introduction of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO) which she says go a long way to helping victims of domestic abuse.
The powers were launched within the region last June, and since then Northumbria Police has made 136 applications – eight which were made in South Tyneside.
Of the 136 applications, 78 per cent were substantiated. They were introduced to enable police and magistrates to put protection in place in the immediate aftermath of domestic violence. They can ban a perpetrator, with immediate effect, from returning to a residence, and having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim time to consider their options and get the support they need.
Ms Robinson added: “DVPO’s can be a really useful tool in assisting victims of abuse seek help and support, and giving them the breathing space to make informed decisions about their future.
“We welcome any tools that will assist victims to come forward and report any domestic violence crime, including coercive behaviour and emotional abuse”.
The DVPO figures come as Northumbria Police continue their campaign “Children can learn by example” which aims to tackle all forms of domestic abuse and focuses on the effect it has on children who witness it.
Detective Superintendent Lisa Orchard said: “Often victims are too frightened to report their abuse, especially when officers arrive at the door. These powers allow police to remove the suspected offender from the property for a minimum of 48 hours, giving the victim time and space from the offender, but also the opportunity to interact with services and be offered the relevant support.”
Anyone suffering from abuse can contact 0800 066 5555 for independent and confidential advice.
To change abusive behaviour, call Respect on 0808 802 4040. Options can be contacted on 456 7577.