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9 February, 2016

Have a Heart This Valentine’s Day

“I know what it is like to receive a phone call saying “It’s Becca she’s dead, he’s killed her”

Andrew Overton, whose sister was murdered by her violent partner, encourages people to be aware of the signs of domestic abuse and to contact IDAS for help and support.    

This Valentine’s Day weekend, local domestic abuse charity IDAS are launching the ‘Have A Heart’ campaign. The campaign will encourage people to make a pledge to be aware of the signs of domestic abuse and promote healthy relationships by supporting their friends and family.

As part of an awareness raising campaign, funded by the North Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner, IDAS are asking people to download a ‘healthy relationships’ heart badge to their social media profile to show their support. The badge (Twibbon) features a heart with the characteristics of a healthy relationship and participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #HaveAHeart to take part in the discussion online. Download a twibbon now! http://twibbon.com/support/have-a-heart-3

Many people feel that domestic abuse is not happening in their area or among the people that they know but thousands of people experiencing domestic abuse are hidden in plain sight within our communities.

The Office of National Statistics Crime Survey for England and Wales (2013) highlighted that 50% of people affected by domestic abuse reported to a friend, neighbour or family member in the first instance. Raising awareness of domestic abuse can help people to support each other and to ensure that people know where to get the support that they, or their friends and family, need.

Andrew Overton’s sister was murdered by her violent partner. Andrew has the following message:
“I know what it is like to receive a phone call saying “It’s Becca she’s dead, he’s killed her”.  I know what it’s like to deal with a mother and father in the immediacy of devastating news that they have lost their only daughter through this horrendous act. I know what it’s like to tell my sister’s friends and relations that she is no longer with us and I know what it’s like to see an 8 year old girl, so devastated, so emotional and so much destroyed because she has lost her mother! This is not right, this is not fair!

“I saw the signs, I knew something was wrong but I wanted to believe that everything would be ok, I wanted to believe that she would come to me if there was anything wrong, but to be honest I didn’t know what to do!

“My message is quite simple – if there are signs of domestic abuse, if you suspect domestic abuse is happening, if you even think that someone may be affected by domestic abuse then pick up the phone, send an email, just get in touch with IDAS and listen to and act upon the advice that the professionals at IDAS give you. If only I had had the foresight to do this when my sister was alive then maybe she would still be alive today!

“I ask that you make a pledge to be more aware of the signs of domestic abuse, particularly where you suspect or know it is happening. Early Intervention can be the key to saving peoples’ lives!”

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said:
“I am pleased to be funding the campaign because it is so very important for people suffering from domestic abuse to know how and where to seek help. In addition, the support of family and friends can be a catalyst for this to happen, so it’s vital we all know the warning signs to look out for.

“Reports of domestic and sexual abuse are on the rise and increasingly home is the place where many people need the most protection. 

 “In response to this, I announced last week that North Yorkshire Police would be investing an additional £3 million in boosting its service to protecting vulnerable people – including those who are suffering domestic abuse.

“I have heard Andrew tell his sister Becca’s story first hand; he tells in the starkest way the terrible damage that domestic abuse can inflict on people, families and communities. I support this campaign 100 per cent and wholeheartedly back every effort made to help people in this dreadful situation.”

Many people do not recognise the signs that they are in an abusive relationship such as: constant criticism; always being checked up on; their partner being very over protective or jealous, and preventing them from seeing family and friends. IDAS have developed a healthy relationship checklist to assist people in diagnosing a potentially abusive relationship. This is available on their web site. Domestic abuse can also include physical violence, sexual and financial abuse. Visit https://www.idas.org.uk/healthyrelationships/ for further information.

People affected by domestic abuse may appear withdrawn; tread on egg-shells, especially around their partner; give explanations for injuries that don’t quite add-up and may cancel appointments or miss opportunities to spend time with friends.

“Abuse can be difficult to recognise, but early intervention can help people to stay safe and can limit the damage that domestic abuse wreaks on a person’s life. We would encourage anyone who is concerned about their partner’s behaviour or a friend’s or family member’s relationship, to get in touch with us via our 24hour helpline or web site.” Sarah Hill, Director IDAS

Domestic abuse can affect anyone from any background, race, class or social status. People abuse their partners in same sex relationships at the same levels as in any other type of relationship. IDAS can help anyone whether they are worried for a friend or themselves. IDAS provides support, advice and refuge to anyone affected by domestic abuse call 03000 110 110 or visit www.idas.org.uk

On Sunday 14th February at 1pm a peaceful demonstration will be held at the Harrogate cenotaph to mark One Billion Rising and to call for an end to violence against women.

On 7th May this year, there will be a commemorative walk for Becca in Rowntree Park, York at 11am. For more information please email info@idas.org.uk

Andrew Overton – Becca’s story