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  1. ITV Report

Victim's father: Why it's vital to talk about the 'invisible shackles' of domestic abuse

Nick Gazzard writes for ITV News on the anniversary of his daughter's murder Credit: ITV News

Two years ago today, Nick Gazzard's 20-year-old daughter Hollie died at the hands of her partner Asher Maslin.

Nick has written this piece for ITV News on the anniversary of her murder.

Hollie was a talented and creative hairdresser who had the world at her feet.

Tragically her life was cut short by her former partner at the age of 20 and she was not able to fulfill her dreams.

While we are devastated and can’t change what has happened to Hollie, we can hopefully change the lives of other young people.

Children and young people know more about the abuse taking place at home than we might imagine. They are affected in many ways and often have nowhere to turn for support.

Hollie’s Young People is a programme that the Hollie Gazzard Trust will deliver through Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service.

Lots of young people are frightened, hurt and confused about what has happened to them but are not able to talk about what is going on in their homes.

However, it is important to talk about the abuse and help the young person recover from their experience and encourage them to go on and reach their potential.

We know that the impact of domestic abuse on young people can lead to them having mental health problems, using drugs and alcohol, self-harming, failing at school and not achieving their ambitions.

The aim of the programme is to support them so they can achieve their ambitions.

We need to raise awareness of domestic abuse and stalking in our society.

Family and friends who are suffering need to be encouraged that it is nothing to be ashamed of and seek the specialist advice and guidance needed.

Hollie Gazzard's parents Mandy and Nick pictured at her funeral in May 2014 Credit: PA

We will continue to campaign to raise awareness, educate and prevent abuse happening especially in young people through our programmes.

The introduction of the new legislative framework around coercive control is a major step forward in tackling non-physical abuse. It is the silent killer.

Fear and confusion are central to our understanding of coercive control. It is like living in a world of moving goal-posts, shifting sand, like constantly walking on eggshells, a world of everyday terror.

And one in which the abuser places invisible shackles on the victim.

One in three women suffer domestic abuse which is an understatement when you consider coercive control and non-physical abuse.

It is crucial that individuals understand the signs of coercive control and the devastating impact that it has.

Early identification, intervention and prevention is essential. Historically we have counted the costs of coercive control in the women and children who have been murdered and silenced for ever.

I am hopeful that for the first time we have a law that may assist us in reducing the numbers of women abused, protecting those who are vulnerable and ultimately saving many from their lives being ended by domestic homicide like Hollie.

  • Behind Closed Doors - Fear and Control: Tonight will be broadcast on Thursday at 7.30pm on ITV

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse contact The National Domestic Violence Helpline free and confidential (run by Refuge and Women's Aid) on 0808 2000 247.