The difficulties faced by rural abuse victims

For many living in rural communities, it can be significantly harder to access specialist domestic abuse services.  Isolation can trap victims anywhere, but in rural areas, the social isolation can be compounded by geographical isolation and the perpetrator can be protected by the small size of the community.

There is often an assumption that domestic abuse is an inner-city problem, confined to lower socio-economic or ethnic minority groups. And a victim can feel very vulnerable seeking confidential  support from their neighbours, the local police, or the family doctor.

Victims may be reliant upon public transport which is not always reliable and on time.  For those who have access to a car the abusive partner may control the use of this limiting petrol money, monitoring mileage and demanding explanations of where they have travelled to or from.

Where there is outreach or community based support available this in itself can be difficult for a domestic abuse victim.  The sight of an unknown vehicle parked outside the house or a support worker entering the home can cause gossip and speculation.

Where police officers are embedded in close-knit communities, as in rural areas, domestic abuse victims can feel that they would be more likely to take the side of a perpetrator they know socially, although in some cases,  intimate knowledge of the local community can help a police force dedicated to eliminating domestic abuse.

Shropshire Domestic Abuse Service

Our service aims to break down the barriers faced by victims and to work alongside other agencies to ensure all victims have a place of safety they can access easily and quickly when needed and help to find the support they need.

We currently run a female only 10 bed refuge and, from April 2017, will introduce a range of dispersed properties across the County offering safe shared accommodation.  The accommodation will be supported by specialist domestic abuse workers and will be accessible to all victims and their children who need to flee domestic abuse.

We will work in local communities; urban and rural, across Shropshire to educate local people on the dynamics of domestic abuse so they are able to support their neighbours, colleagues and friends in a safe, positive and proactive way.

We will also offer face to face emotional and practical advice, guidance and support. By being based in Housing Offices, Council buildings, Churches, Sure Start Centres, GPs and other hubs that local people access regularly, victims will not stand out when accessing our service.

Our aim is to help ALL VICTIMS live a life free from abuse, hold perpetrators to account, safeguard adults and children and empower all to reach their full potential.

Sharon Turner
Communications Officer
Shropshire Housing Group