The two short videos feature scenarios which illustrate typical behaviours of both victims and abusers in relation to physical abuse and coercive control; the latter often being overlooked as a form of domestic abuse.
The purpose is to convey the message to victims that “you are not alone” and to encourage them to “tell someone.” They also highlight the other medical professionals and partner agencies who can offer support alongside the police.
The videos, which are supported by Women’s Aid, Refuge, NHS England and the London Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, will be played in GP surgeries across London.
Zena, who in 2016 was assaulted by her ex-husband and has watched the two videos, said: “It’s good to put out a message that domestic abuse is more than just physical abuse; in my experience the controlling and following was the worst. People may not realise that messaging and turning up unannounced is abuse so I think it’s great that the police are sending the message that abuse isn’t just physical.
“I think showing this in doctors’ surgeries is an especially great idea. Sometimes I sat there and wanted to cry and hoped that people would just ask the right questions. Seeing the woman in the video break down is what got me. Anything the police do to raise awareness is positive.
“I suffered domestic abuse for a long time and I only realised it through the experiences of others. The best thing I ever did was report it to police after I left an abusive relationship. It has taken me a long time to get back to a good place.”
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Vandenbergh, who came up with the idea to create the videos, said: “Domestic abuse is more than just violence. It is also the psychological and emotional abuse from a partner, which can traumatise the victim.
“These videos clearly show this and I hope give a rounded view of what a victim could be going through. I hope these videos strike a chord with those who might be experiencing domestic abuse, and encourage them to come forward and report it so they can be fully supported, not only by the police but by other charities and partner agencies.
“I also hope that these videos raise awareness amongst the public, so they are able to spot the signs in others going through it and help them.
“This is just a small part of what the MPS is doing to tackle domestic abuse and we continue to be fully committed to safeguarding victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.”
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “From our work with survivors, we know that for many women their doctor’s surgery or hospital might be the only place where they are alone and feel safe enough to disclose their experience of domestic abuse, especially coercive and controlling behaviour. Health professionals, like GPs or nurses, can play a huge role in ensuring that survivors get the support they need to escape this form of abuse.
“This campaign by the MPS will help send out the powerful message to survivors that they are not alone and there is help out there for them – whether the abuse is physical or mental. By working together, the police, NHS and specialist agencies can give the right response to survivors of coercive and controlling behaviour to help them rebuild their life free from fear and abuse.”