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Issue:- 20 March 2015

Cheshire and Merseyside domestic abuse campaign reveals true scale of the problem

CAMPAIGNERS raising awareness about domestic abuse across Cheshire and Merseyside have been staggered by the number of people who have shared their experiences and come forward to tell their stories as part of the initiative.  Nearly 20,000 people have engaged with the:- 'Be a Lover not a Fighter'campaign which was launched by award winning actress Crissy Rock just over a month ago.  The campaign has taken place via Facebook, online and at face to face engagement events which have been taking place across the 9 local authority areas involved. Aimed at the general public, the campaign intended to breakdown boundaries and uncover the scale and impacts of domestic abuse, often hidden issue in communities. It asked people to pledge their support to help put an end to domestic abuse and encouraged people to talk more about it.  Many have talked about it, with survivor stories being shared daily with the team at their various engagement event locations or on social media.

1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have suffered domestic abuse with 2 women killed every week in the UK by their partners. But it's not just physical violence; emotional and psychological abuse is less well acknowledged but is also domestic abuse.

'Be a Lover not a Fighter' is the latest campaign run by Champs, a public health collaborative of the Directors of Public Health across the nine local authorities in Cheshire and Merseyside. It aims to generate discussion about domestic abuse, its signs and impacts, while offering help through local services, listed on the website, to bring the subject out into the open.

Matthew Ashton, the Director of Public Health spokesperson for the campaign said:- "We expected that this campaign would get people talking and raise the debate about domestic abuse generally. Encouraging people to talk about domestic abuse is hard - people are often afraid to talk openly and the social norm can be to accept that it is happening, so this is success. Through aiming to raise awareness amongst the general public, we knew that we would also engage with those who have experienced domestic abuse; support for this approach from the public and survivors alike has been overwhelming.  What has also been highlighted is how common peoples' experience of domestic abuse is; including the extreme outcomes of domestic abuse such as the murder of a family member. We received so many survivor stories and pledges of support for what the campaign is trying to achieve and how more needs to be done to encourage people to talk, seek advice and report it."

Crissy Rock, who stars as Janey York in the hit TV series Benidorm said:- "As a survivor of domestic abuse myself, I know how hard it can be to talk about it. I commend those people who have come forward and shared their experiences so that other people might be able to relate to what is happening and leave an abusive relationship. Well done, if it's saved just one person it's been worth it."

Other celebrity support has come from, Shameless actress Karen Bryson, Hollyoaks actress Jennifer Metcalfe, Everton Football Club's Ambassadors Ian Snodin, Graham Sharp and Graham Stuart, and Miguel De Foro, from Britain's Got Talent's MD Productions. They have all shared videos of support showing their 'heart hands' on social media for the public to join in with their own. For more information about the campaign go to:- LoverNotFighter.Org.UK.

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