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Poster campaign row: We’re here to support ‘all’ victims of domestic abuse, says under-fire PCC
05 Jan 2016

A police and crime commissioner (PCC) has rebutted claims that a force campaign highlighting the trauma of domestic abuse is ‘sexist’.

Northumbria PCC Vera Baird says she, and Northumbria Police, are themselves ‘victims’ of an orchestrated attempt to divert attention away from the main focus of the New Year advertising promotion.

And the former Labour MP has denied any knowledge that she “knowingly” blocked a male domestic abuse victim on her Twitter account after he complained about the ‘female bias’ of the police campaign.

Ms Baird said the whole situation was “farcical” as the PCC has just financially backed a project where male workers will support men who are victims of domestic abuse.

“This has been funded properly and appropriately for the first time and yet there is all this talk of being sexist,” she told Police Professional.

According to technical, gaming and internet culture news site Breitbart Tech, a Northumbrian resident, who goes by the name ‘MahdDogg’ on Twitter, sent a tweet to the force’s official account, telling them he was “appalled” by the sexism of its campaign – aimed at publicising new legislation that brings “coercive control,” including psychological and economic coercion, under the scope of domestic abuse laws.

The poster campaign refers to abusers as ‘he’ and victims as ‘she’.

And advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority has confirmed it has received four complaints about the posters which campaign groups claim are ‘offensive’.

Even a New Year poll in the Newcastle Chronicle found that 60 per cent of per cent of people questioned believed that the poster campaign is ‘sexist’. But Ms Baird said that the ongoing ‘live’ poll is now showing the same proportion “in favour” of the police promotion.

On the Chronicle’s Facebook page, Claire Nicholson commented: “It’s very sexist! It’s not just women who suffer domestic violence, a lot of women also dish it out.

“Just because more female victims come forward than men, doesn’t mean it’s more common among females to be victims! These posters are disgraceful!”

In its defence Amanda Harbron replied: “It’s a good campaign and deserves good press not negativity. Mental cruelty and coercive control is not about who irons your shirts. It’s a living hell.”
And Nicky Scott posted: “It would have been very easy to produce two or three posters aimed at male victims. I believe Vera Baird means well and she is driven to the cause, which is impressive.”

A spokesperson for Northumbria Police said it had received a number of complaints and the force will consider the responses “going forwards”.

They said the initial focus was on women as in the vast majority of cases reported to the police, women are the victims.

The spokesperson said: “The offence isn’t limited to just one gender or sexual orientation, anyone can be a victim of coercive control.

“We do acknowledge there are male victims out there and would encourage anyone who suffers domestic violence to contact police and seek help and support.”

‘MahdDogg' told Breitbart Tech: “In my opinion this is an attempt by Northumbria Police to dodge the complaints of sexism without realising that they are actually revealing something incredibly important.

“Men aren’t reporting their abuse to police. Why aren’t they doing that? It’s simple, because they, like me, feel that because of campaigns only focused on women as the victims and not perpetrators of abuse and violence, that if we come forward to the police we will not be believed.

“This is the reality of male victims of abuse.”


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