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The Sun launches new joint campaign

A new joint campaign between The Sun and Women’s Aid, 'Speak Out', seeks to highlight how we can all play a part in tackling domestic abuse.

The Sun launches new joint campaign
Victoria Newton: "I'm proud of the incredibly important and necessary change for domestic abuse survivors that the long term and on-going partnership between The Sun and Women’s Aid over many years has led to.” Photograph: Külli Kittus on Unsplash.

This new campaign follows 20 years of campaigning by Sun readers on behalf of domestic abuse survivors from campaigns such as Save Our Shelters, Give Us Shelter and helping to shape the domestic violence bill in 2021, says the publisher.

Everyone should understand more about the signs of abuse and what they can do to reach out to someone who might be trapped in a relationship, they continued. To launch the campaign, The Sun say that they joined Women's Aid Patron, Mel B MBE, on a visit to a refuge visiting domestic abuse survivors to highlight the crippling pressure on women’s refuges up and down the country posed by the current cost of living crisis.

Mel B says: "It is really hard to know what to do or say and in many ways domestic abuse is still a taboo issue. It is not just a ’women’s issue’, it is for men and everyone. If you know someone in your life who you fear might be going through this it is so important they know they can talk about it. I have always spoken out because I believe it is so important.

“We know already that it often takes 7 or 8 attempts to leave an abusive relationship. It is already such a struggle to leave, but when you are more fearful than ever about money, it makes it ten times harder.

“And for women fleeing abusive relationships the financial side is a huge burden. By coming somewhere here they can take that first step. But we need to support these places which are so important.”

As part of the campaign, The Sun also reveals figures from Women’s Aid which show how recent hikes in bills are having a dangerous effect on survivors wanting to seek refuge in shelters. Not only have the costs of running refuges more than tripled, increasingly numbers of women are feeling trapped in abusive relationships because they worry about the cost of running a household alone.

Womens Aid report that 96% of women they surveyed who have suffered abuse in the last year said the cost of living crisis had a negative impact on their financial situation. 73% said the cost of living crisis had prevented them from leaving or made it much harder to leave. More than half of women still living in abusive relationships said their partners had used increased concerns about finances as a tool of coercive control.

Women’s Aid are calling on the home office to offer an Emergency Support Fund for Survivors to offset the impact of the cost of living crisis on shelters.

Victoria Newton, Sun editor says: "I'm proud of the incredibly important and necessary change for domestic abuse survivors that the long term and on-going partnership between The Sun and Women’s Aid over many years has led to. The Sun’s readers have been at the forefront of the paper’s long-standing commitment to battling domestic violence, whether it be writing and signing letters or donating money where they can to raise vital funds. The cost of living crisis is the number one issue in Sun readers' minds right now, and I know they'll be interested to hear more about how this crisis is also affecting women coming forward, as well as the shelters they have helped to save in the past."

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid told The Sun: “The current cost of living crisis has been devastating to survivors of domestic abuse. We know that domestic abuse goes hand in hand with abusers often controlling every aspect of a woman's life. The soaring energy and food costs will leave many women more vulnerable to abuse.”

Nik Peasgood, chief executive of Leeds Women’s Aid says: “The sharp rises in costs are really scary. Our residents pay us a very modest charge which includes all their bills and council tax and which often comes out of housing benefit. But our bills, like gas and electricity, are shooting up by three times. We can’t pass those costs on to residents as they can’t afford it. And the time families are living here is getting longer and longer because it will be such a shock to move out and suddenly be faced with the cost of running a household.”

Mel is also campaigning for additional reforms she believes will make a huge difference to those fleeing abusive relationships. She wants funding provided in the Victims Bill, currently going through parliament, to be used to offer counselling to women who have fled abusive relationships.

She said: ”I still suffer PTSD, if a door slams I jump. Or the other day I was at a showbiz event and I jumped out of my skin at the sound of a cork popping. I think I have moved on but it is still with you.”

Mel B is also says she is pushing for the Victim’s Bill to make provision for regular training of court officials and judges.

She said: “I have navigated the court system myself and it can be an absolute nightmare and can often feel stacked towards the perpetrator. Some judges and court officials just don’t understand enough about the realities of living with abuse and how difficult it is to leave. The system can be crushing.”

Mel also wants issues like coercive control and abuse within relationships taught in schools.

She said: “It can start even in the teenage years with a boyfriend policing what a girl is doing on her phone. We need to be talking about what coercive control looks like.”

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