There’s no place for domestic abuse. Full stop. Preventing violence, abuse and harassment is everyone’s business.

That’s the message in the Sheffield Domestic and Sexual Abuse strategy, which highlights that domestic abuse is a widespread public health issue that needs a long-term plan to reduce how often it happens in the city.

People may be surprised to hear that over 18,000 people aged 16 – 59 are estimated to have been a victim of domestic abuse in the last 12 months.

Some incidents are reported, some are not, and there is an urgent need to be clear about what domestic abuse is because it comes in a number of forms.

Alison Higgins, Strategic Commissioning Manager for Domestic and Sexual Abuse said: “Domestic abuse is often recognised as physical, violent abuse but that sort of abuse is often the tip of the iceberg. Most abuse starts with emotional abuse of some kind and the warning signs are usually to do with jealous and controlling behaviour. People who have experienced domestic abuse will testify that the impact of emotional abuse can be harder to recover from than physical injuries. We are committed to helping and advising anyone who is either being abusive or being abused in any way and we encourage people to come forward to get support to prevent any further harm. Remember that there is always someone to talk to so please come forward and ask for help. That’s what our services are here for.”

The term ‘What’s the harm’ is being used in this domestic abuse campaign to highlight unacceptable behaviours:

‘If you use threatening behaviour, lose your temper, throw objects, humiliate or dominate your partner, this can be a SIGN OF DOMESTIC ABUSE’. This is a sign of intimidation.

‘If you control where your partner can go, who they can see, what they can buy or wear, this can be a SIGN OF DOMESTIC ABUSE’. This is a sign of control.

‘If you obsess over what your partner is doing, where they are and who they are with, this can be a SIGN OF DOMESTIC ABUSE’. This is a sign of obsession.

‘Inspire to Change’ educates people who are being abusive to change their behaviour and those who know that their behaviour is not acceptable are being offered free sessions that help them to understand why they behave the way they do and how to change it. This helps to improve their own lives and the lives of those close to them.

The sessions are run by South Yorkshire Rehabilitation Company and so far the second highest kind of referrals to this service are people who have recognised they need help and have come forward themselves.

Luke Hart, who witnessed controlling, obsessive and intimidating behaviour against his mother campaigns to raise awareness of abusive behaviour. He says:

“Coercive and controlling behaviours are at the root of domestic abuse. In 2016, only days after my brother Ryan and I had finally raised enough money for our family to escape from our father, he shot and killed our Mum, Claire, and 19-year-old sister, Charlotte in public before killing himself.

“Our father hadn’t been violent towards us before but throughout our lives he had been incredibly dominating and controlling. Only after the murders did we learn that what happened to our family happens regularly in this country – two women are killed every week by a partner/ex-partner and the one thing all domestic homicides have in common is an extensive history of coercive control by the perpetrator. We’d been looking for violence to determine whether we were in danger when we should have been looking for coercive and controlling behaviours.

“It’s crucial that men understand it’s not OK to control, isolate, intimidate, undermine or financially restrict their partners or children. That’s why Inspire To Change by Sheffield City Council is so important because it goes to the root of the domestic abuse and challenges not just behaviours but attitudes.”

David who attended Inspire to Change speaks here about how the sessions helped him and his relationship which is now so much better https://youtu.be/5jH3bTfWZsc

People can find out more about the programme including how to refer at www.inspiretochange.co.uk or call 01142 567 270.

Anyone affected by domestic abuse who needs support can visit www.idas.org.uk or call the Sheffield Helpline 0808 8082241.