Support for domestic violence victims at ‘all time high’ in Ashfield

Women's Aid Integrated Services is based in The Hub at the Ashfield District Council offices.
Women's Aid Integrated Services is based in The Hub at the Ashfield District Council offices.

Support for victims of sexual, emotional or domestic abuse in Ashfield is at an “all time high”, according to a local aid service.

Nottingham-based organisation Women’s Aid Integrated Services, or WAIS, operates locally from the Integrated Services Hub at Ashfield District Council’s Kirkby headquarters.

Chief constable Craig Guildford giving a speech to Ashfield District Council.

Chief constable Craig Guildford giving a speech to Ashfield District Council.

It offers a range of support to domestic violence victims, including its children and teen [CAT], freedom and pet projects.

It was revealed that, between 2017-18, 234 people attended the freedom project that promotes healthy relationships, while more than 500 women left its service after completing rehabilitation from domestic abuse.

Jennifer Allison, head of services at WAIS, says there is a growing need for support such as this.

She said: “People automatically think about violence when you talk about domestic abuse, but there can also be sexual or emotional abuse which goes unreported.

“A lot of the time people will think ‘oh they haven’t hit me so it can’t be an issue’, however we need to break this stigma.

“The priority is to continue raising awareness about sexual or emotional domestic abuse.

“A lot of the time someone won’t want to leave a relationship if there is, for example, a vulnerable pet, as this can be used as emotional abuse.

“We offer a service where we foster pets from abusive relationships and take this level of emotional trauma away, which in turn helps the relationship.

“So long as there is a need for this service, we will continue to provide any support we can for victims of domestic abuse.”

Police figures also suggest there has been an increase in the number of reports of sexual assault and rape reported to Nottinghamshire Police.

However, while this may appear as alarming, Nottinghamshire Police’s chief constable Craig Guildford says there is positives to be seen.

He said: “While this might not seem like a positive thing to discuss, it means people are finally having the courage to come forward to report crimes.

“Taking a sympathetic and empathetic approach to domestic and sexual violence is the key moving forward because, if we can build up trust, even more people will feel comfortable discussing what has happened to them.”

WAIS is the leading support for female victims of domestic abuse in Nottinghamshire, working in partnership with Equation which supports male victims.