A WEYMOUTH domestic abuse survivor is using her experiences to help Dorset Police protect others at risk of harm.

Local woman Donna Anne Pace was contacted by a member of the Dorset Police Vulnerability Team after officers read about her experiences in the Dorset Echo.

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Ms Pace, who now works as an advocate to help other survivors, said she was "absolutely thrilled" to be invited to record a video as part of a 'DA Matters' training programme used by police and UK-wide charity SafeLives.

Almost one in three women aged 16-59 will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime, while two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales according to Home Office data.

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The video will be used to show how survivors are impacted by an abuser or past abuser, and to teach police officers and staff about some of the tactics abusers use to detract people from their actions - which can often result in the victim looking like the perpetrator, Ms Pace explained.

She hopes that by sharing her account with other victims across Dorset, they too will be empowered to flee abuse.

"It’s a delicate balance of weighing up the dangers of leaving and finding a support network to help you escape," she said.

"Many people do not realise that leaving an abuser is the most volatile time for the victim, as they may endure more physical threats or, in sadly in some cases, end up fighting for their lives. No one should suffer in silence due the inhumane behaviour of an abuser."

Ms Pace, who has also published books about her escape and has spoken at international events on the subject, added: "My own experiences of domestic abuse still haunt me, as if I have a dark cloud over me every day.

"Perpetrators are very clever – clever at manipulating other people, especially those in their network, to think that they are the ones being abused by a partner or ex-partner.

"They choose a narrative that dispels any wrongdoing from their part, and that, if questioned, they display a persona of calm, shyness, confusion, innocence and being well-spoken.

"Behind closed doors, the victims know exactly what the perpetrator is capable of, and yet, when they do find their voice to express their feelings, they are gaslighted into thinking that they are going mad, and/or stupid."

Ms Pace also offers insight into the impact living in an abusive situation can have on children, who may grow up believing that what they are experiencing is the norm, even if they themselves are not the target of abuse.

"This is both wrong and dangerous – as some children – without the proper support and help, could end up later in life as a perpetrator themselves," she added.

For more details, visit betterlivestraining.co.uk/about-us or safelives.org.uk/training/police/about

For information about Donna Anne Pace's work visit www.onevoicemychoice.co.uk