VIDEO: Balloon release to raise awareness of ‘hidden’ domestic abuse problem

Ten years after Caroline Bolton left a violent relationship, she along with her colleague organised a balloon release on Harrogate Stray to raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence which she says is still ‘hidden’.

Caroline and Tracy Burdette who both work at Harrogate Hospital released 121 balloons to signify the 121 men and women who die each year as a result of domestic violence.

The pair are hoping to raise awareness of domestic violence and the work that the Independent Domestic Abuse Service IDAS, (formerly the Harrogate Women’s refuge) does in Harrogate.

Caroline said: “I was in a violent relationship for nine years around 10 years ago.

“At the time the Women’s Refuge helped me, it helped me just to know there was something there and the support if I needed it. They were there with help and advice when I needed it.

“People don’t want domestic violence to exist, it is still a hidden problem, here in this beautiful spa town our police dealt with 1,500 cases last year.”

Caroline and Tracy work together in the medical records department of Harrogate District Hospital and decided last year to start volunteering and fundraising for IDAS.

Caroline added: “I wanted to do something to give back and help after my own experiences.”

Tracy said: “We have raised £4000 so far with a disco and bake sales. The hospital has been fantastic, all of the staff have stepped up.

“It is one of the last taboos in society because there is still a lot of judgement.”

The awareness event was backed by the healthcare Trust and IDAS, with a display and information at Harrogate District Hospital about domestic abuse and how to access support and advice.

Angela Monaghan, chief nurse at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust said: “Domestic abuse is such an important issue. There is still a stigma attached to this, we need to try to get the message across that there will be no judgement.

“The hospital guidelines can help staff know how to approach the issue with victims.”

Janet Farnhill, senior nurse for adult safeguarding at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Domestic abuse can affect anyone so at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust we are very happy to support our colleagues and have developed a new domestic abuse guidance and information for staff which will also be launched on this day.

“We hope that the balloon launch will be a very visible reminder of the real human cost of domestic abuse for both women and men and that help is available to people if they need it.”

During 2013 the police in Harrogate dealt with over 1500 reports of domestic violence and many more cases are never reported.

Sarah Hill, director of IDAS said: “We are really pleased that Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust is working so well to raise awareness.

“Last year alone we accommodated over 30 families in the women’s refuge in Harrogate and supported nearly 400 people living locally. Domestic abuse has a huge impact on people’s health, finances, housing status and on their emotional well-being and yet, it is still a largely hidden problem.”