Online assistance for victims of domestic abuse

Police in H District (Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne and Moyle), have launched new online information pages to help signpost victims of domestic abuse.

The PSNI website (www.psni.police.uk) has been updated with information on domestic abuse and how you can seek help on the H District web pages. All you have to do is go to the H District homepage and select ‘domestic abuse’ from the menu on the right hand side of the page.

To make it easier and safer for victims to browse these pages, PSNI have incorporated a red ‘panic’ button which will take the browser directly out of the page and to an innocuous webpage so that their search cannot be identified. Instructions on how to erase your browsing history have also been included.

Detective Inspector Bob Blemmings, of the District Public Protection Unit, explained: “Police have been working very hard over a number of years to tackle domestic abuse and support victims. There is a real commitment to assisting victims, reducing offending and bringing perpetrators to justice. We have been working with our partner agencies to find new ways of helping victims and encouraging people to come forward and seek help. Our experience in dealing with domestic abuse makes it clear that providing information is crucial. Providing details of how a victim can get help could be the first step in helping someone out of a situation they do not want to be in.

More online

“With this in mind we set about creating web pages which would provide information on what constitutes abuse, how victims can get help and how friends and family can help people they believe to be victims. We recognise that someone who is suffering abuse may be afraid to look for help online or may not have the freedom to browse uninterrupted so we came up with the idea of the ‘panic’ button.

“Our intention is that anyone who has the opportunity to look for information will be able to leave the site straight away if they are interrupted. The erase browsing instruction offers further protection and means that, should anyone check, there will be no history of the sites you have visited.”

Sharon Burnett of Causeway Women’s Aid supported the provision of the online information: “Domestic Violence and abuse is very difficult for victims to talk about. Fear of consequences from perpetrators, fear of being judged by others and the fear of an unknown future can lock victims in a dangerous and isolated life. Being able to seek out services that will safely guide them through the decisions they make is vital.

“Accessing information on-line to find support is the first port of call for so many and I welcome the fact that the H District PSNI have responded to this by providing information on their website. By increasing knowledge about Domestic Violence and ensuring that victims know how to access agencies such as Women’s Aid the PSNI are helping to highlight the options that victims have. With these options there is hope of a safer life.”