Taking action against gender-based violence

County Durham residents are being urged to stand together against domestic violence ahead of this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Durham County Council, Durham University and Durham Students’ Union are supporting the international day of action, also known as White Ribbon Day, on Thursday (25 November) and are asking people to join in by signing the White Ribbon Day pledge, promising to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

The day also marks the start of a 16 days of action campaign, raising awareness of the large-scale issue that is domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence.

To help raise awareness and encourage signing of the White Ribbon pledge, the council, university and students’ union will host an event with the support of the Safer Durham Partnership.

Staff will be at the Durham Students’ Union building, Dunelm House, New Elvet, Durham City, from 10am until 2pm on Thursday, answering questions, offering advice and signposting people to available support.

In addition, the council is relaunching its domestic abuse workplace champions during the 16 days to offer greater support to all its employees, regardless of age, gender and sexuality, as part of its commitment to support employee health, wellbeing and safety at work.

Staff can also access a range of training sessions which the council is delivering alongside its partners to create a better understanding of different types of domestic abuse and the impact it can have on victims. This includes male victims, elder abuse, LGBTQ+, coercive control, workplace support, stalking and carer abuse.

Cllr Alan Shield, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for equality and inclusion, said: “It is so important that we all do what we can to tackle domestic abuse and violence against women. A huge part of that is raising awareness of different types of abuse and the impact that this abuse can have on victims.

“Everyone has a right to feel safe and protected. By creating a better understanding of the issue in our workforce, we can better support our staff and our communities and make sure victims receive the help they need.

“We would also like to stress that support is available to all victims of domestic abuse. Whatever your age, gender or sexuality, please don’t delay in seeking help as you are not alone and you do not need to suffer.”

The council commissions Harbour Support to help families and individuals affected by abuse.

Harbour Support Services offers advice, guidance and support to people across the county experiencing abuse, as well as those displaying abusive behaviour.

As part of the 16 days campaign, Harbour has also worked with children across the county to produce artwork and poems which highlight the impact of domestic abuse.

Some of the artwork will be shared on social media during the campaign to help raise awareness of the issue and develop a better understanding of abuse among members of the public.

In the county there is also the Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre (RSACC), a specialist charity which provides free services and support for survivors of sexual violence aged 13 years and over. The charity has sites across the county to offer support. For more information visit www.rsacc-thecentre.org.uk

For more information about domestic abuse and details of local support, residents should visit www.durham.gov.uk/domesticabuse

Harbour Support can be contacted 24 hours a day on 03000 20 25 25. A live chat service is also available at www.myharbour.org.uk

More information on White Ribbon Day can also be found at www.whiteribbon.org.uk