1. ITV Report

Police 'irresponsible' over domestic abuse campaign message

The domestic abuse campaign was launched earlier this week. Credit: Living Well Essex

Essex Police have been criticised for supporting a campaign which highlights domestic abuse victims who stay with their partners.

The force came in for criticism over advocating the Essex County Council-led programme aimed at protecting domestic abuse victims over 55.

The "55+ Safety Net" campaign, launched earlier this week, encourages victims to speak out by using real life stories of victims who both left and stayed in abusive relationships.

But Author Jack Monroe slammed Essex Police as "irresponsible" for suggesting some victims found "happiness" by staying with their partner.

Monroe accused the force of effectively telling women to "put up and shut up", labeling its message absurd.

Essex Police have since apologised for a "clumsy" use of language, but insisted the campaign does not condone domestic abuse.

Jack Monroe slammed the campaign as 'irresponsible'. Credit: PA

The campaign, which seeks to "empower victims... to seek support", was endorsed by Essex Police on Thursday.

The force tweeted that real life accounts included "people who left abusive relationships as well as people who decided that they as victims wanted to stay in a relationship where less harmful abuse was taking place and found safety and happiness in doing that".

But Monroe described the campaign as "silencing" and "diminishing" for victims.

She tweeted on Thursday: "Wow, Essex Police. I just... have no words for what an irresponsible, silencing, diminishing campaign this is.

"Basically telling women to 'put up and shut up' re domestic abuse. In 2017. This is absurd."

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Essex Police later apologised, tweeting that they had used "clumsy language" in supporting the campaign.

A spokesman said it featured people who had help leaving relationships and others who sought counselling and therapy.

The force said: "Our message in this campaign isn't 'stay in any relationship no matter how abusive'.

"It's 'if something is happening in your relationship even if you've been with someone for decades there is help you can get'".

Councillor Dick Madden, chairman of the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board, said the messages were designed to "help victims reach out and seek support".

"The message is clear - domestic abuse is never acceptable," he said.

"Within the comments on this particular post, there were a number of supportive comments - some from survivors who sought support and stayed within their relationship.

"We think it is positive that the campaign has sparked a debate on a very important issue."