Cornwall and IoS launch new strategies to improve our response to domestic abuse, sexual violence and violence against women and girls

21 June 2023

Ending domestic abuse and sexual abuse/violence (DASV) and male violence against women and girls (VAWG) is everyone’s business.

This is the overriding message from Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (CIOS) as they launch two new five-year strategies to address what they describe as a ‘public emergency’.

Lead by Safer Cornwall, the strategies were produced by the four statutory boards in CIOS with responsibility for community safety, safeguarding adults and children, and health and wellbeing, and the associated organisations represented by these boards.

“Our ambition is for Cornwall to be a place where abuse and violence are not tolerated, where everyone can expect equality and respect, and live free from fear.  
“We aim to strengthen our approach to prevention; increase access and support for victims and survivors; improve the justice response and extend our behaviour change work for those displaying abusive behaviour; and work together to ultimately, reduce the prevalence of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and violence against women and girls.” 

Cllr Carol Mould, Portfolio Holder – Community Safety, Cornwall Council

At the heart of both strategies are those who matter most – the people affected by abuse in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

“Joining up on strategy and services will make a difference for residents across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The impacts of domestic and sexual abuse and violence against women and girls are great – for individual survivors and their families and children, and for our wider society including the costs of health, police and other service responses. It is imperative we promote a person-first approach and strive for a healthy Cornwall in every way.” 

Cllr Andy Virr, Portfolio Holder – Health and Wellbeing, Cornwall Council

The organisations are determined to make real, sustainable change by working together to improve services and people’s lives.

Publication of the strategies comes following a particularly harrowing three years for adults and children affected by domestic abuse, sexual abuse/violence and violence against women and girls.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced people into lockdown, a situation that domestic abusers used to intensify or conceal their abuse, coercion and control. This effectively created a ‘shadow pandemic’* that exacerbated pre-existing abuse and violence.

“Acts of violence against women and girls (VAWG) are interconnected and part of a spectrum of violence underpinned by inequality, male power and control. Each act reinforces that VAWG is a ‘normal’ experience tolerated by society.  
“Alongside the strategy, we have a cross-party working group to confront the patriarchy, sexism and misogyny endemic in our society and culture; to raise awareness and to get everyone involved in ending male violence against women and girls.”  

Cllr Thalia Marrington, Chair of VAWG cross-party working group, Cornwall Council

Specialist services have continued to provide high-quality support throughout, despite the challenging conditions, which is a credit to their passion and commitment.

However, this was – and is – a global challenge and in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the impacts have been deeply felt.

The Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy is the first of its kind to be published by the CIOS boards and is a direct response to what they believe is a public emergency.

Both this and the new Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (DASV) strategy aim to take a preventative approach by challenging societal causes of abuse and tackling root causes through education, awareness and early identification and support.

The whole community approach strives to promote better knowledge and understanding of abuse, support healthy relationships and tackle the attitudes and beliefs that underpin DASV and VAWG.

The strategies focus on:

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