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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 14:13 GMT
Dire warning on domestic violence
Refuge poster (detail, public domain)
Refuge's Don't Ignore It posters will be on display until March
Domestic violence will be responsible for the deaths of 140 women this year, according to women's charity Refuge.

And with one in nine women suffering severe abuse every year, Refuge says everyone must start taking more responsibility for the problem.

Refuge is behind a 1bn national poster campaign aiming to raise awareness of the problem.

The posters, featuring scenes of domestic violence in public settings, will be on display until March 2004.

Launching the campaign, Refuge chief executive Sandra Horley said: "By recognising that domestic violence is a crime, and by realising that we're all accountable for the extent of the problem, we can bring about the changes in attitude that we so desperately need."

Call to action

One in four women will experience domestic abuse in the course of their lifetime, and one in nine experience severe abuse each year, the charity says.

NATIONAL PROBLEM
Refuge poster (detail, public domain)
One in four women will suffer violent abuse at some point
Abuse makes up almost a quarter of violent crime
Less than one-third of incidents are ever reported to police

Refuge spokeswoman Lisa King said the campaign aimed to spur friends and family of abused partners to take action on victims' behalf.

More than one-third of people say they have witnessed friends being verbally or physically abused by their partners in public, and almost four-fifths believe domestic violence is a major crime that needs to be eliminated.

Ms King said: "Even if it's not you experiencing this ... this is a call to action, to bring it out of the shadows."

However, she warned: "The key thing is not to intervene yourself."

Instead, people are asked to encourage victims to seek help from Refuge or the police.

Refuge is operating a 24-hour phoneline offering support to victims of domestic violence, and advice to those concerned for others - it can be reached on 0808 808 9999.




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