The original campaign started in 1991 and aimed to raise awareness of the issue of violence towards women and girls. Whilst domestic abuse and sexual violence is mainly experienced by women, we recognise and acknowledge that it is also experienced by men. Regardless of how you identify, domestic abuse and sexual violence could affect you.
In Torbay this year we have chosen to hightlight coercive control as the main focus for our campaign and are working with St Cuthbert Mayne School in Torquay and South Devon College in Paignton to raise awareness of this aspect of domestic abuse with young people.
Coercive control was made a criminal offence in its own right under the Serious Crime Act 2015 which identifies that controlling or coercive behaviour does not relate to a single incident, it is a purposeful pattern of behaviour which takes place over time in order for one individual to exert power, control or coercion over another.
Coercive control and gaslighting are slow and manipulative forms of abuse which, when used day in and day out, leave someone doubting themselves and their sanity, isolated from family or friends and living in constant fear of what could happen.
Statistics on the 16 Days of Action website show just how many people are affected by domestic abuse and highlights that anyone can become a victim. It also shows the impact that employees living with domestic abuse can have on businesses. Public Health England have helped developed a toolkit for employers which provides organisations of all sizes and types with practical advice on how to respond to domestic abuse and build an approach that ensures all employees feel supported and empowered by their workplace to deal with domestic abuse and sexual violence.
During the 16 Days of Action, we are very grateful to Torbay's Community radio station, Riviera FM, who have kindly allowed us daily airtime for local services and voluntary groups to talk about the support that is available for anyone who is experiencing, or has experienced, domestic abuse or sexual violence in Torbay.
We'd also like to thank the Riviera International Centre for the use of their big deckchair, Jet Set Go and Skypro Productions for their enthusiastic support, and absolutely everyone else who is taking part in this year's campaign.