How will your loved one ‘treat’ you? – Police raise awareness of domestic abuse this Valentine’s Day

Victims are being urged to come forward if they experience any form of domestic abuse.

Victims are being urged to come forward if they experience any form of domestic abuse. - Credit: Archant

Valentine’s Day is globally recognised as the day to be spoilt by the one you love, but Hertfordshire’s County Community Safety Unit is asking you to consider how you are being ‘treated’ tomorrow, to raise awareness of domestic abuse and coercive control.

Coercive control is a continuing act or pattern of acts which are used to harm, punish or frighten a victim and can take many forms such as stopping a victim from socialising, limiting access to family, friends or finances or threatening to publish private information or footage of the victim.

Det Chf Insp Ruth Dodsworth from the Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit said: “Sadly, as we know domestic abuse takes many forms. Coercive control is sinister as it is exerted over a period of time, often it’s a long while before victim realises it is happening to them as the perpetrator will play ‘mind games’ – Valentine’s Day provides opportunity to highlight the situations where this can happen.

“A perpetrator may treat their victim to a nice meal or buy a gift – only to chip away at the victim’s confidence or undermine them. The victim may think they are being over-sensitive and make excuses for the abusers’ behaviour.”

The law was changed last year making it possible for charges to be brought in cases where there is evidence of controlling or coercive behaviour.

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The powers will help authorities intervene in cases where offenders subject their spouses, partners or other family members to a range of emotional and psychological abuse.

“We can only use the new powers if victims come forward and tell us about what is happening to them – you will be believed and there is help available so please come forward. Don’t be treated badly on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year,” Ms Dodsworth added.

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Police Neighbourhood teams will also be raising awareness of domestic abuse throughout the week at planned engagement events across the county, however there are none due to be held in Stevenage or North Herts at this time.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, please call Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline free on 08 088 088 088 between 10am–10pm Monday to Friday. Alternatively visit: or call police on 101 or

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