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‘This is abuse’ campaign to help teen domestic violence victims

Abusive teenage relationships are being tackled by Lambeth Council through a new awareness campaign. The council recognises that some teens think verbal and physically attacks are acceptable and is running ‘This is abuse’ with the Home Office to challenge the behaviour.

The campaign, which starts on Tuesday, June 4, will feature posters across the borough, expert led discussions with young people in schools and colleges, and extra support for victims.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Neighbourhoods, said: “Domestic abuse is very damaging for victims of any age – but when experienced at a young age it can set a tone and a damaging expectation of what is acceptable for the rest of your life.

“Some teens have very worrying attitudes about what is and isn’t acceptable – abuse is not normal and is never alright.

“We are determined to explain to young people who experience domestic violence that they just don’t have to put up with someone they are close to being abusive towards them and that support is available.

“Added to that we are telling perpetrators that what they are doing is wrong, won’t be tolerated and that we will take every step to ensure we get successful prosecutions through the courts.”

The work is being undertaken as part of Lambeth council’s Safer Communities campaign to highlight what we’re doing to make the borough a safer place. The campaign also shows how we are giving people in the borough more control over the council’s work with the police to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

Young women whose relationship leaves them feeling scared, intimidated or controlled can get help from Lambeth’s Gaia Centre, which is run by Refuge, on 020 7733 8724.

For advice on the issue visit thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk.

NOTES:

• One in six children aged 11-17 (16.5%) have experienced sexual abuse (source NSPCC)

• A third of girls in an intimate partner relationship aged 13-17 have experienced some form of sexual partner violence (source NSPCC)

• In 2011 there were 1,468 instances where the Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage, the majority involving women/girls

• 77% of young people do not feel they have enough information and support to deal with physical or sexual violence (ICM poll for End Violence Against Women Coalition)

The Government definition of domestic violence widened in April to recognise 16- to 18-year-olds experience and perpetrate domestic violence, and to support victims who are abused while in a relationship get more help and support.

Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is a key council priority for Lambeth council and for the Safer Lambeth Partnership. Safer Lambeth is Lambeth’s Crime and Disorder Partnership chaired by Lambeth Council Chief Executive Derrick Anderson and Lambeth Police Borough Commander Matt Bell. VAWG covers domestic violence, sexual violence, prostitution, trafficking for sexual exploitation, forced marriage, honour based violence, female genital mutilation and stalking. Lambeth has published one of the first VAWG strategies in the UK and is recognised as a national leader in how to respond to VAWG.

Lambeth Council funds the Gaia Centre. The Gaia provides one-to-one confidential support services for females aged 13+ and males aged 16+ who live in Lambeth and who have experienced or who may be at risk of gender based violence. The services include Independent Gender Violence Advocacy for those at high risk of homicide/ serious harm; Community Outreach Workers; Peer support scheme; Volunteer opportunities; Early intervention scheme to reach out to and support 13-16 year-old girls; Group support sessions and a Sanctuary scheme.

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