#AllMenCan help make the change this White Ribbon Day


By Councillor Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Public Protection and Communities.

The past eighteen months has been challenging for all of us, but even more so for the 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 who have experienced domestic abuse during this time.

It is a myth that this only occurs in heterosexual relationships, as anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, sexual preference and identity, religion, or social background.

This can take many forms – including controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, physical violence or sexual abuse – as the abuser seeks to establish and maintain power and control over another person.

Victims will often be isolated from their family and friends, or have their access to money restricted – intensifying their feelings of fear and hopelessness about the situation they have unwillingly found themselves in.

Data shows it is more common for women to be victims, with the Office of National Statistics reporting that almost one in three women aged 16-59 will, sadly, experience domestic abuse in her lifetime – making it very likely that this has happened to someone you know.

The annual White Ribbon Day campaign begins this Thursday, November 25, with the aim of helping to end violence against women and girls.

This year’s theme is #AllMenCan, following on from the tragic murder of Sarah Everard in March and the conversations this led to about the role of men in making women feel safe at home, at work and in their community.

It is easy for men to assume that simply not being violent or abusive to women themselves is enough, when in reality so much more needs to be done.

Our council is joining with partners from the Safer Stronger Communities Board to ask all men in Suffolk to make the White Ribbon Promise; to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women. This includes promising to never look the other way, removing the onus on women to keep themselves safe and acknowledging that whilst violence against women isn’t the fault of all men, it is their responsibility.

I will be making this pledge myself and have given great thought to what I can to do help, not just as a man, but as cabinet member for Public Health, Public Protection and Communities.

It is incredibly important to me that everyone feels safe in Suffolk and our council remains committed to working closely with partners, including the police and district and borough councils, to provide residents with the support needed for this to happen.

Anyone who is worried that they, or someone they know, may be a victim of domestic abuse can find dedicated information and advice on our website or call the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline free of charge 24 hours a day on 0800 977 5690.

We also have a Domestic Abuse Champion network to empower organisations to help people experiencing domestic abuse. To date Suffolk Public Sector Leaders has provided funding for over 500 champions to be trained – equipping them with the skills they need to offer consistent information, advice and support to bring lasting positive changes for victims across Suffolk.

Organisations wishing to benefit from free domestic abuse training can find out more about becoming a champion by emailing dachampions@suffolk.gov.uk.

In addition, our officers will be visiting rural foodbanks in the county during the White Ribbon campaign to meet with service users and staff, as we continue to raise awareness in our communities about the signs of domestic abuse and the help available.

We’ve also partnered with several Suffolk high schools to provide students with the opportunity to lend their support to the campaign by participating in different activities, such as art sessions.

Further information on this and our other plans for White Ribbon Day itself, and the 16 days of action following this, will be shared on our council’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

You can play your part by visiting www.whiteribbon.org.uk to find out more about the White Ribbon campaign and to make the promise yourself.

Together we must support victims to recognise domestic abuse and seek help at the earliest opportunity.