Charities working with domestic abuse have criticised a campaign by Essex police which offered extra support to those over 55 who were in an abusive relationship and who decided to stay with their abuser.

The campaign featured a fictional woman of 65, Sheila, who was in an abusive relationship. The copy read:- “She knew that the abuse in her relationship was wrong, but also knew that she wouldn’t leave” “With help and support from specialist organisations and agencies Sheila and her husband stayed together, but safely”.

Essex police admitted that the campaign used “clumsy language”. The Women’s Aid charity commented that:- “The message that a woman can safely stay in a relationship that is or has been abusive is extremely dangerous. Every week two women are killed by their partners or former partners”. And the Refuge charity commented:- “It’s the job of the police to arrest and charge domestic abuse perpetrators, but only last month the third Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary report into the police response to domestic abuse victims found fewer perpetrators were being arrested as well as grave inadequacies in practice”.

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