Northamptonshire police use social media to target domestic abuse

Computer profile
Image caption Police are using 'dating profiles' to raise awareness of abusive relationships

A police force has created mock dating profiles to warn of domestic violence in Northamptonshire.

The profiles are being used as part of a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness of abuse in relationships and stalking.

There are around 10 reports of domestic abuse a week in the county.

Det Chief Insp Julia Potts, from Northamptonshire Police, said they were using social media as it was now part of "everyday life".

Images of mock dating profiles outlining potential suitors' real personalities are being hosted on the force's social media accounts in an effort to unmask abusers' behaviour.

Videos and questions to stimulate online conversation are also being hosted, alongside useful links and numbers.

'Reaching out'

DCI Potts said: "It's a way of getting our message out to those that may be affected by domestic abuse and abusive relationships, or those who may know someone who is being affected by abuse and it's a good way of reaching out to people.

"People will see some advice on what domestic abuse is, how to recognise it, things around controlling behaviour from partners.

"It's a case of getting in early and getting that prevention done so people don't then become victims."

The county's force has more than 27,000 members on Facebook and around 13,000 followers on its main Twitter account.

It hopes through messages getting shared and re-tweeted, the campaign will touch far more people than those just signed up to its sites.

Violence started

A domestic violence victim, from Northamptonshire who does not want to be named, believes she could have benefitted from the campaign's effort to pinpoint aggressive behaviour.

She said her partner "wanted to be with me all the time, wanted to know who I was talking to, what I was doing... and at the time I thought it was flattering.

"He started being quite controlling, not letting me have friends, not letting me talk to people.

"He started drinking a lot and encouraging me to drink a lot and it was then when the violence started.

"I wasn't allowed to have my own bank card, that again made me very vulnerable.

"If this campaign had been about maybe I'd have been a bit more aware and got out earlier."

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