A new report published by the National Rural Crime Network reveals a shocking picture of domestic abuse in rural Britain after researching specific counties across The Country including Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

The results of an 18-month intensive research project, the study has analysed available evidence, spoken in depth to victims of abuse, assessed local support services and looked at the approach of the police.

It highlights the stories of 67 people that have experienced domestic abuse, and its findings lead to an urgent call for action from government, the police, society and us all.

Counties surveyed included Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Notably in Dorset, of those surveyed, rural victims of domestic abuse outnumbered urban by a factor of 2:1

In a foreword to the report, Julia Mulligan, chair of the National Rural Crime Network says:

“We have uncovered a deeply hidden and disturbing side to rural life. Far from the peaceful idyll most people have in their mind when conjuring up the countryside, this report bears the souls and scars of domestic abuse victims, who all too often are lost to support, policing and criminal justice services.

“This report has been over a year in the making. During that time, I have spoken to many people about the emerging themes. Everyone has nodded and said, yes we know there is domestic abuse in rural areas, yes we know there are problems for victims…

“All parties with a duty to help victims; the police, support services, charities, Police and Crime Commissioners, health services, and many others, need to understand that we have missed this. We have let victims and survivors down. We have collectively failed. We need to put that right. And for all of that, let me be the first to apologise to those we have failed.

“This report must surely be a catalyst to help us better protect the women, children and men in rural communities who suffer daily at the hands of calculating, manipulating, controlling and violent abusers.”

The shocking findings revealed include the following:

  • Abuse lasts, on average, 25 per cent longer in the most rural areas
  • Traditional, patriarchal communities control and subjugate women
  • The policing response is largely inadequate
  • Support services are scarce – less available, less visible and less effective
  • The more rural the setting, the higher the risk of harm
  • Rurality and isolation are deliberately used as weapons by abusers
  • Retreating rural resources make help and escape harder