Special Feature
Domestic abuse help is out there

By Connie Osborne Thursday 08 November 2012 Updated: 09/11 10:08

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Buy photos » Redditch firefighters Rob Allen and Craig Pillinger get hands on with Mayor Alan Mason and artist Kim Thittichai in tackling domestic abuse. 4401208ncr1 www.buyphotos247.com

MEN in high profile positions from across Worcestershire will walk a mile around Redditch town centre in women's shoes, as part of a countywide campaign to highlight domestic violence.

The 'these heels are made for walking' event takes place on November 30 and is expected to see councillors and other key figures put on heels, slippers, wellies and wedges in a public pledge of support to stamp out domestic violence.

It forms part of several activities planned across Worcestershire as part of the international 16 days of action White Ribbon Campaign, beginning on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25 and ending on International Human Rights Day on December 10.

Martin Lakeman, co-ordinator for Worcestershire Forum Against Domestic Abuse, said the aim was to bring the issue to the forefront of people's minds.

"Raising awareness of what is so often a hidden issue is vital in addressing and ultimately overcoming domestic abuse. The simple message is, do not suffer in silence.”

A Christmas Carol Concert in Church Green on December 10 will also raise awareness and mark the end of the campaign.

Anyone who believes they are experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence, or knows someone who might be, should call the Worcestershire domestic abuse helpline 0800 980 3331, for free and confidential advice 24 hours a day.

FIREFIGHTERS from the borough have given a helping hand to a campaign against domestic abuse.

Following the theme of 'These hands are not for hurting', crew members from Redditch Fire Station painted their handprints onto a large banner as part of the White Ribbon Campaign.

They were joined by textile artist Kim Thittichai and are one of many organisations and schools in Redditch which will be creating their own handprint banners.

Each group taking part will produce one banner which will be then stitched with others and hung in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre to show the town's solidarity against domestic abuse.

Station Commander Phil Berry, from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, added: “Domestic abuse of any kind can have far-reaching consequences and we are pleased to be helping to highlight this issue and support such a worthwhile campaign.”

WHILE women are still mainly the victims of domestic violence with one in four suffering some sort of abuse, men are also affected with one in six experiencing at least one incident in their lifetime.

Here Martin, who lives near Alvechurch tells his story (Please note names and some details have been changed to protect identities).

MARTIN had been with his girlfriend for four years before they decided to move in together. Up until then the couple had been happy, with only minor issues when his girlfriend showed signs of being paranoid and checking his phone.

But it was not until she started self harming and having unpredictable mood swings he realised something was seriously wrong in their relationship.

"There wasn't a particular trigger but she wouldn't sleep, she'd clean the kitchen floor and she'd spend money on internet shopping buying presents for others.

"And then when she lost her temper she would start hitting me and I just used to curl up."

But despite the fact Martin was covered in bruises and scratches he never sought help as he did not want anyone to see the marks and believed the situation would get better.

"In the beginning she would be so tearful and apologetic. I always felt sorry for her or believed she would get help, but most of all I really loved her," he added.

But the violence got worse to the point where she threatened him with a knife. The couple split up for a short time but decided to get back together and had a baby.

"She would say as soon as we lived on our own or got married or had a baby she would stop. But she didn't."

The relationship finally ended when she tried to attack Martin while he was holding their child. Despite calling the police on several occasions, talking to hospital staff and her family, he claimed nothing was ever done.

"They told me she had to admit she needed help but she wouldn't. She'd say to the police I'd tried to attack her. Because I'm a man and I'm a bit older than her, and a foot taller, people thought I must be the abuser. I never thought domestic abuse was something women could to do men.

"My advice to anyone who goes through this is to get evidence. If I went to the doctors and showed them my marks it would make everything easier now. People would believe me. Abuse is not something that men just do to women. It is people to people. And there is support out there."

He added he had his children and Stonham, which provide support and care for people suffering from abusive relationships in Worcestershire, to thank for keeping him going.

"I felt like it was me against the world for so long, but when I found Stonham and started attending their group meetings, it really helped. Hearing what other people were going through, that I wasn't alone in this and the one on one support has been incredible."

To speak to someone at Stonham call 0845 1550395.

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