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First Minister Carwyn Jones with Joyce Watson AM at the launch of the All-Wales domestic violence helpline.

First Minister Carwyn Jones with Joyce Watson AM at the launch of the All Wales domestic abuse and sexual violence helpline

Anti-violence campaigner Joyce Watson AM has voiced her support for the launch of the All Wales Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Helpline.

The Helpline provides a 24 hour, bilingual information signposting service, to help and guide people with experience of domestic abuse or sexual violence, who are in need of access to services such as advice, emergency support, safety, and knowledge of their rights and options.

Joyce has campaigned for many years against violence, and set up candlelit services, first in Llandaff Cathedral some years ago, then last November in Brecon Cathedral, to raise awareness of violence against women and children.

The Mid and West Wales Assembly Member said: “This Helpline could be a lifeline to someone facing violence in their own home.

“The promise of 24 hour support, safety, signposting, and sanctuary will make a huge difference in far too many cases.

“In the last ten years there have been 12 homicides in the Dyfed Powys Police area, and seven of these involved domestic abuse.

“Domestic abuse is an issue for all of Wales, rural as well as urban. It accounts for a quarter of recorded crime in England and Wales, and in many instances children are witnesses to this abuse.”

The Helpline was first launched in 2004 as the Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline and has since taken over 215,000 calls from people in need of help and support.

Mrs Watson, who is a member of the Assembly All Party Group on violence against women and children, added: “Both physical and mental violence can have a devastating effect. If you feel isolated or endangered in your own home and you live in a rural community, help can feel a long way away.”

45 per cent of women have experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Last year police recorded 48,738 incidents across Wales, including 11,759 arrests and five homicides

Dyfed Powys Police recorded 1,943 domestic incidents

1,975 people entered Welsh refuges last year.

Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant, said: “Domestic abuse and sexual violence are simply not acceptable.

“I am passionate about this subject, and so I’m pleased that the Welsh Government has consistently maintained the budget dedicated to maintaining services such as the All Wales Domestic Abuse & Sexual Violence Helpline. The Helpline is a key part of our Right to be Safe strategy.

“As the new Helpline launches we will experience an increase in callers. This is not a failure in our efforts to stamp out such issues, it’s a success in that we will actually be reaching more of the victims who desperately need the support of the Helpline. With the launch of the new Helpline I firmly believe we are heading in the right direction.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse contact the All Wales Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 80 10 800, or for more information go to www.allwaleshelpline.org.uk

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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