Now domestic abuse can be added to the list after a quite harrowing report, published by the National Rural Crime Network, revealed the extent to which victims – isolated, unsupported and unprotected – are being failed by the professionals, and agencies, who should be there for them.
Headed by North Yorkshire’s crime commissioner Julia Mulligan, it reveals the extent to which ‘rurality’ can be used as a coercive weapon by manipulative abusers who specifically move victims to remote settings to isolate them from friends and family.
The consequence, according to this report, is domestic abuse lasting, on average, 25 per cent longer in most rural areas – not least because victims are, because of their stoicism, unwilling to share confidences, and risking breaking friendships, in supposedly tightly-knit communities.
And there is another factor. The fact that support is so far away – a rural police station serves hundreds of square miles – makes it harder for the abused to go to the police, or health professional, to seek help without drawing attention to their absence.
As such, this report is a wake-up call which must be heeded. As Mrs Mulligan, who has bravely spoken out in the past about how she was sexually abused as a young person, stresses, all parties with “a duty to help victims” need to understand that they have “collectively failed” to offer sufficient help, often because of ambivalence, and that they need to come together to end this “rural hell”.
Powerful words, the response of national, regional and local agencies is awaited with interest. But, now the issue is out in the open, albeit belatedly, victims can be comforted – and it is only a very small consolation – by the fact that they need not suffer in silence and that help will be at hand when the report’s recommendations are, hopefully, enacted as a matter of urgency.