A commitment to put an end domestic abuse has earned East Sussex County Council White Ribbon status.
The authority becomes only the second county council in the country to be recognised by the national campaign for its efforts to tackle the growing problem.
The White Ribbon Campaign aims to ensure men take responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women by raising awareness and understanding.
The award recognises East Sussex County Council’s commitment to increase awareness, provide and support services aimed at reducing incidence of domestic violence and rally the local community to make a stand against the crime.
In 2013/14 in East Sussex alone, 6,360 domestic abuse crimes and incidents were reported to the police. It is believed that more than 40,000 women and around 1,250 men living in the county could experience four or more incidents of domestic abuse as adults.
“There is never an excuse for domestic violence and it can never be condoned,” said Councillor Bill Bentley, lead member for adult social care.
“We have become part of a growing group of organisations and individuals who are clearly saying that we won’t stand for it.
“The chances are, someone reading this is a victim of domestic abuse. My message to you is it does not have to be this way, you can be safe, you will be supported, you will be believed.”
Male councillors and chief officers at the authority will take an active stand as ambassadors, supporting the campaign, acting as positive role models and encourage others in the community to stand up against domestic abuse.
Female councillors and the county council’s chief executive will act as champions for the cause, raising awareness of the issue and support available.
The county council is part of the East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership which has set out an approach to support all residents to have safe, equal, abuse free relationships. The council supported a conference organised by the East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership in Hastings on Tuesday.
The ‘Domestic Abuse Hurts Everyone’ conference raised awareness of what employers can do to support their employees affected by domestic abuse and the impact domestic abuse has on children and young people.
Eastbourne as a town was also awarded White Ribbon status this year, and Sussex Police received the award for its work to tackles domestic violence.
The town’s police commander, Chief Inspector Steve Biglands, said, “I am delighted that the partners in Eastbourne have risen to the challenge of demonstrating their collective commitment to eliminate violence against women and girls by obtaining White Ribbon status for the town - well done to all. If you are a victim or you know of someone suffering abuse, please tell us so that we can help.”