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Forum will tackle domestic violence in Bradford
The heartbreaking effect of domestic abuse on the children of victims was spelt out at the first meeting of a new forum.
‘You’re Not Alone’ is a new network of support agencies for domestic violence and forced marriage in Bradford.
Its first meeting was held yesterday at the Midland Hotel. It was spearheaded by Erika Williman, a solicitor at Petherbridge Bassra Solicitors in Bradford.
Speaking at the meeting, she said domestic violence had a devastating impact on not just victims, but children in the household.
She said: “What is categorically clear is that children suffer untold harm and damage both emotionally and physically as a result of witnessing domestic violence.
“Some go on to develop anxiety disorders, eating disorders or depression.”
Mrs Williman said often it was places like children’s centres where victims turned to for help, adding: “That makes the Government cuts to Sure Start centres all the more shocking.”
Many of the people attending were from schools, colleges or children’s centres, who were given tips for what signs to look out for in children’s behaviour.
Recorder Tina Landale, a barrister and judge, urged teachers or anyone else to write down if anyone said they were being harmed, as this could be used as evidence in the future.
She said: “There has been a change in the law and hearsay evidence is now routinely admitted. If somebody complains to a friend, a school colleague or a teacher, that evidence is admissible. That witness is able to go to court and say: ‘I was told this’.”
Speaking to the forum, she said the courts were also getting better at making young or vulnerable witnesses and victims more comfortable during court cases. Miss Landale said new technology was being used so they could give their evidence via video links.
Another speaker was from Mankind, a helpline for men suffering domestic violence.
Project manager Pat Moffatt said the organisation’s phone number had recently appeared on Coronation Street, in which longstanding character Tyrone Dobbs has been a victim of abuse.
After the episodes, calls to the helpline went up by 300 per cent.
She said: “Most people know where to go to find help for female victims, but men find it very difficult to know where to find help.
“Male victims are frequently told they must have done something to provoke the situation. They’re very embarrassed about it.”