Students draw attention to the often hidden terror of domestic abuse with noisy march around Stevenage town centre
- Credit: Archant
More than 400 students from North Herts College blew whistles and waved placards as they stomped around Stevenage to campaign against domestic abuse today.
Coinciding with International Women’s Day - a global celebration of the role of women in society first held in 1903 - the march in partnership with Stevenage Police Station and Stevenage Borough Council aimed to raise awareness of domestic abuse in the community and to encourage people to seek help when they need it.
Organiser Nadia Hodges said: “It’s to raise awareness so our young people aren’t victims of domestic abuse.
“We did this two-years-ago with the borough council and it was really successful so we decided to do it again.”
17-year-old Anna Dawson who is studying for a BTEC in health and social care at the college and took part in the march, said: “We want to make people more aware of domestic abuse as I don’t think people are always aware of it.
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“It happens quite a bit everywhere but people might not always be aware of it as it’s not always physical. Sometimes it’s more manipulation and bullying.”
The students wended their way through the town centre and back to the college foyer where more than 20 charities and organisations which play a role in helping victims of domestic abuse had stalls set up.
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Carol Gayle works for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust as a nurse helping to safeguard children and mothers against domestic abuse.
She said a domestic abuse incident happens every 30 minutes in Hertfordshire and it can have a devastating impact on families.
“We know domestic abuse has a detrimental impact on children at every stage of their lives. It can affect their education, their ability to form relationships and it can cause delays in their speech and language development.
“Even small babies can be affected and certainly mothers if they are being abused during pregnancy.
“It’s excellent that young people are talking about it today as it’s not keeping it hidden.
“We need to shift perceptions to make sure abuse isn’t acceptable in relationships.”
Parents concerned about domestic abuse should visit www.hertschs.nhs.uk.
People can also call the Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline on 08088 088 088.
On Sunday Stevenage World Forum will be holding a second march in the town centre called ‘Stop violence against women’. It will take place by the town centre clock between 11am to 3pm. There will be dancing, music, speeches, information stalls, workshops and food.