WRU And Police Launch Domestic Abuse Campaign

Police, rugby officials and a Gwent woman who survived years of abuse at the hands of her ex-partner launched a campaign yesterday to encourage more victims to come forward and seek help.

Research has shown that domestic abuse increases at times when more alcohol is drunk – including sports matches like the upcoming Six Nations.

Abuse survivor Annie, 33, was at the launch of the Wales tackles domestic abuse campaign -a joint initiative by the four Welsh police forces and the Welsh Rugby Union, yesterday. She was with her ex-partner for nine years.

At first, he started undermining her confidence.

“He would make remarks about things like my clothes or looks but nothing major,” said the 33 year-old who waived her anonymity to help others.

Then, he started hitting her.

Annie said: “I became pregnant and the violence got worse after my daughter was born.

“I tried to leave him but it was difficult when he was begging me to give him another chance.

“My first contact was with a nurse four years ago in A & E. I had a fractured cheekbone, ribs and bruises and was too ashamed to admit what had happened, but my daughter alerted a nurse who gave me a phone number for Women’s Aid.

“I left hospital and we immediately went into a refuge. I had no money to buy food, clothes or possessions but the most important thing was we were safe.

“My ex-partner was sentenced to 15 months in prison for offences including grievous bodily harm.

“If you are in an abusive relationship, don’t suffer in silence, help and support is available to you. I suffered considerable physical and mental abuse before seeking the support which has helped me to re-build my life.”

Gwent Police Chief Constable Mick Giannasi said the campaign, launched to coincide with the Six Nations Championships, highlights that 39 percent of domestic abuse cases involve alcohol and research shows that during major sporting events incidents of domestic abuse increases.

“The only way we can eliminate this crime is by working together with victims, support agencies and the wider community”, he added.

Roger Lewis, group chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union added: “Rugby reaches into every home in Wales and we hope this will help us send a powerful message which will play an important part in helping to reduce the scale of domestic violence the police and social services currently have to deal with.”

The All Wales Domestic Abuse 24 hour freephone is 0808 8010 800.