Kisses, flowers and chocolates abound on Valentine’s Day, but for some the occasion is far bleaker.
Tower Hamlet’s annual campaign, Domestic Abuse No Excuse, highlights the plight of those trapped in abusive relationships and encourages victims to break their silence.
Nazmun Choudhury, from the council’s domestic violence team, argued Valentine’s Day is an important time to flag the issue.
“Obviously, on Valentine’s Day we think about how things can be really good,” she said. “But then there’s the other side of things in a relationship, when things don’t go well. The message we are trying to get across is how to be in safe relationships.”
Roughly 4,000 women and 2,000 men are affected by domestic violence in Tower Hamlets every year. Police deal with an average of 11 domestic incidents a day.
Each day this week, the council will set up information stalls at various locations around the borough, offering leaflets and advice about the protection available to victims.
Ms Choudhury said: “The main thing is letting people know about the services available in the borough and encouraging them to come forward and seek help as early as possible. It’s also about telling people what domestic violence is, and that it includes other forms such as forced marriages.”
The domestic violence team runs several projects to help domestic abuse sufferers, including legal protection for those forced into marriage. Run alongside police, the Sanctuary Project offers free home security to those at risk of becoming homeless due to a partner’s violence.
Community outreach officer Sultana Hussain ran a stall in Canary Wharf on Monday. She handed out nail files and condoms featuring the Domestic Abuse, No Excuse slogan to office workers. “The main focus is awareness-raising really,” she said. “We have a free prize draw to entice people. We’re hoping many people will come along.”