Before I joined Bedfordshire Police in 2014, I spent 11 years in the Royal Military Police and worked around the world, including the UK, Germany, Canada, Kenya, Iraq, Kuwait and South East Asia.
My time in the military, working in so many different places with people from such varied backgrounds and cultures, taught me one of my biggest skills, which is the ability to communicate with others on a personal level. It’s not just about what you say, it’s also about your body language and how you express yourself, and how you learn to adapt your style to suit those you interact with.
A victim of repeated domestic abuse and violence has expressed her thanks for helping her to escape her abusive partner, and giving her the strength to start a new life; the life she says she dreamed of, but thought she could never have.
Zoe Davis is a Victim Engagement Officer. Here she tells Aisha’s* story.
At 9.40pm one evening in November last year, the ambulance service reported they were treating a woman with injuries, including a suspected broken nose, for which she refused hospital treatment.
The assault had occurred inside her home, and when the offender – her partner – left the scene, the victim – Aisha – had gone into the street to seek help, and asked to use a passer-by’s mobile phone to call the emergency services, as she had no phone of her own.
Checks showed the couple were known to police for a dozen domestic incidents, over the past two years, but on each occasion she did not wish to press charges.
This time however, she disclosed she had been raped a week earlier, but was still reluctant to support any action against her partner who had controlled and abused her for the entirety of their almost six-year relationship, where he denied her access to money, frequently badly assaulted her and had not allowed her to work.
Initially, support was provided to Aisha by an independent domestic violence advisor (IDVA), who helped start her positive journey of recovery and then I began talking to her on the phone weekly, listening to her, giving her support and reassuring her that, should she wish to take things further, we would believe her and we could help.
I had to let her make the decisions and go at her own pace, but if she needed extra help or reassurance, then we would speak.
At Luton Crown Court on Thursday (23 July), her abuser pleaded guilty to two counts of common assault, and one count of witness intimidation, because he wrote to her from prison to try to get her to drop the charges.
He was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, and was made the subject of an indefinite restraining order, but was released from the court due to time served on remand.
DI Lorraine Coombes, the force’s lead on domestic abuse, said: “This is one of the most satisfying outcomes we have ever had on a case.
“How can I say that, seeing as he walked free from court? Because it’s not just about the conviction, but the work that’s been done to enable this survivor of domestic abuse to feel that she can now move on with her life.
“I am certain that without Zoe and her constant contact and reassurance to Aisha, we wouldn’t have got the conviction and the restraining order.”
After court, Aisha told me she feels she has a life now, one that she dreamed of having but never thought she’d have again because she never believed she’d have the strength to move on from her abuser, and she expressed her thanks to me, and to the team of detectives, for helping her escape the cycle of abuse and restore her confidence.
Aisha has taken on board the support offered, and has been able to work on her own wellbeing to rebuild the relationships with her family and friends that were lost due to her partner’s controlling behaviour. She even felt confident enough to seek employment and three weeks ago, got her first job in six years.
I’ll never forget her thanks, or the difference that we can make to a victim’s life.
* Aisha is not her real name.
Abuse in any form is never acceptable. If you have concerns about a person’s behaviour towards another, or you fear for your own, or someone else’s safety, please get in touch.
Call police on 101, always call 999 in an emergency.
Alternatively you can call independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously and in complete confidence, on 0800 555 111, or report via its website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
Victims of domestic abuse can also contact the Signpost Hub for free and confidential support, whether the abuse has been reported or not.
The Signpost Hub’s experienced staff and volunteers understand the emotions and challenges victims may be going through. They are specially trained to listen and give help and advice. Often just talking to someone, especially one who is not family or a friend, can help victims, or those affected, make sense of what has happened and find a way to help cope and recover.
They can provide a safe, neutral place for victims to voice their fears, worries and emotions, and the support is confidential and non-judgmental.
They also work with a range of specialist organisations and community support groups, and can make referrals to help victims. For further information or to get in contact visit www.signpostforbedfordshire.com/hub