URGED MORE: More education on domestic abuse
Cllr Anne Marie Curry from Darlington Borough Council, Image: LDRS
A councillor told how she had been in an abusive relationship as she urged more education on the issue of domestic violence.
Cllr Anne-Marie Curry, deputy mayor of Darlington Borough Council and leader of the Lib Dem group, spoke of her experience at a public cabinet meeting.
“I know about it. I’ve been in an abusive relationship,” she told councillors.
“You are in denial for a long, long time,” she said as she welcomed the adoption of the new Domestic Abuse Act.
“One of the biggest issues is the non-reported crimes of domestic abuse that does occur, and the education of those people to realise that they are getting abused.
“A lot of them don’t think they’re getting abused. They don’t listen to their friends.
“There’s a massive big job of education there. It can’t be taken on by the council, but as individuals we need to be aware of this and try and educate where we can.
“When you’ve got people who deny that they’re getting abused but they are, you can’t help them.
“Until they learn that they’re getting abused, or come to realise they are being abused, then we need to have all systems go to put them into a protective place to help them.
“You’ve got to just make sure we’re ready and willing to go in and as soon as they come around to the idea that they’re being abused. It’s not an easy issue to deal with.”
The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 defines domestic abuse for the first time, including emotional, coercive, controlling and economic abuse as well as physical.
It introduces new duties for local authorities including supporting victims, providing safe accommodation and strategic planning.
Deputy council leader Cllr Jonathan Dulston said: “I’m pleased to bring this report to cabinet because it demonstrates a significant step forward the government are making in dealing with this crime.
“Domestic abuse continues to be an issue in our communities. It is still significantly under-reported.”
However a government grant of £222,365 has already been used with no further funding yet provided, the meeting heard.
Cllr Matthew Snedker expressed concern about this: “There’s plenty more to do.
“This is a very key part of public service and this is a very pertinent piece of policy, it’s very high on the agenda right now.
“There’s no follow-on money yet to come. We’re still waiting for a fair funding formula for local government.
“This isn’t trying to score a small point. This is a concern that this hard work of officers getting to this point may well fall for lack of funding.”
Cllr Dulston said officers should look at funding opportunities to sustain projects.
He added: “We have identified it as a potential pressure in terms of needing to put some more capacity in there after this particular initial project ends, so I share your view.
“We’ll continue to have conversations with the MPs as we have done and push for that sooner rather than later.”
He said Darlington was ahead of other authorities as health practitioners had spent time with families to “nip it in the bud at an early stage”.
He added a £450,000 Safer Streets fund would allow work in schools, training 5,000 students and raising awareness.
The council will publish its draft three-year domestic abuse strategy, which will be open for consultation between October 26 and December 17.
Words: Gareth Lightfoot, Local Democracy Reporter
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