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Every week in the UK, two women are killed by their partners or ex-partners, and one in four women will experience domestic violence or abuse at some time in their life. Every minute of every day the police receive a domestic violence-related call.

The impact on the victims themselves, their children and the whole extended family is easy to imagine, but an often forgotten cost of this crime (because crime is what it is) is an economic one – and that affects us all.

Domestic violence costs society an estimated £66 billion a year. The cost to public services, such as the police, the NHS and housing, is well-known, but there is also huge cost to the private sector in lost output ––that is, time lost at work as a result of physical and emotional injuries caused by domestic abuse.

The chances are some of your staff and customers are, or have been, affected by domestic violence, directly or indirectly. It’s frequently hidden, the stigma attached to it and its very personal nature meaning that victims often don’t talk about it easily. It can take a victim a very long time to finally decide enough is enough and to seek help.

Domestic violence is on the increase and Preston has the highest number of domestic violence-related calls to the police in the whole of Lancashire.

A local charity, Preston Domestic Violence Services (PDVS), is a lifeline to victims, often at a time of crisis.

A service user who accessed PDVS services, said: “I had never been involved with domestic violence services before my first visit with PDVS and felt surprised when the local women’s centre referred me to her. However, I now understand that domestic ‘abuse’ need not involve physical violence and that mental/psychological and emotional control is just as serious and there comes a point when you need help and support to deal with a situation. PDVS was able to help me make sense of what I had experienced in a non-judgmental way and provide some crucial insights within a very short time. My Support Worker was then able to help with benefit and housing advice and ultimately assist me in securing a place of safety in a refuge. I would be in serious difficulties now without her assistance.” 

As with many charities, funding to keep services going is a problem. The charity is grateful for the help it receives, including donations from individuals, but demand for the services is high, and resources for the voluntary sector are scarce.

Catherine Turner, who chairs PDVS, said: “Our advice, outreach and helpline services are always overstretched, but we never turn anyone away; we help them if we can.

“Often, a call to our helpline is the first step for a new life away from violence, coercion and control, for a woman and her family.”

For more information, visit www.pdvs.org.uk.

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