A campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse, teenage relationship abuse and stalking is to be launched by Northamptonshire police with the use of Facebook and Twitter.
As part of Operation Challenge, starting April 18, police will use thought-provoking images, videos and questions to encourage online debate and conversation with useful links and numbers for those seeking help or advice.
Detective Chief Inspector Julia Potts, from the Protecting Vulnerable People unit, said: “We’ve got around 27,000 fans on Facebook and around 13,000 followers of our main Twitter account, which doesn’t include those following individual officers and departments.
“That’s a lot of people with whom we can communicate and the potential number of people we can reach is phenomenal if Facebook fans ‘share’ posts with their friends and Twitter followers re-tweet.
“Domestic abuse can, and does, happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and social status. It’s insidious in nature and many victims don’t even realise that they are in an abusive relationship and accept it as normal.
“We want to make those people - and their friends and family - aware of what constitutes abusive behaviour so that they can take action before it escalates any further.
“Our aim is also to reassure those victims who are frightened and unsure how to leave the situation they are in that help is out there.”
The campaign will be using a new series of images depicting fictitious profiles of people on online dating sites and social sites. Rather than the attractive qualities people usually use about themselves, the profiles describe various types of behaviour commonly shown by domestic abuse offenders.
Additionally, video clips from the Home Office Teenage Relationship Abuse campaign will be posted, along with links to the National Stalking Helpline (supporting National Stalking Awareness Day on 18 April) and to organisations such as Women’s Aid, Victim Support and the Sunflower Centre.
Chief Inspector Potts added: “The Home Office definition of domestic abuse changed in March of this year – from abuse between adults to encompassing those of 16 years and over. We will be raising awareness of this change in legislation and we will also be sharing links to the hard-hitting videos seen on TV.
“It’s important that young people don’t fall into the trap of either being abused, or being an abuser, and the key to stopping this happening is by making people aware of the issues and offering the necessary help and support.
“This campaign aims to bring these issues to the forefront of people’s minds - to get them thinking and talking about them – and to be confident to report concerns or ask for advice.”
Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds is backing the campaign: “I am dedicated to reducing violence and ensuring that victims of crime are put first. It is essential that we address domestic abuse effectively and we need people to feel confident in reporting it to do that.”
More information about the Home Office Teenage Relationship Abuse campaign can be found at Thisisabuse
More information about National Stalking Awareness Day can be found at stalkinghelpline