Police are launching a new campaign against domestic abuse and their message to victims is clear: ‘come forward and we can help you’.

The campaign by North Devon police launches on Sunday in support of the international 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.

In the last two years, police have dramatically increased the number of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO) handed out - and have enforced 50 already this year.

The civil order is designed to protect victims of domestic abuse and require a perpetrator to leave their home and not return for up to 28 days.

This order also prevents them from ‘molesting’ their victim, meaning they cannot use or threaten violence to intimidate, harass or pester them.

Now police want to reassure victims of domestic abuse they can come forward and seek help, and that police will use any powers available to them to bring the offender to justice.

Chief Inspector Ali Lander said: “Domestic abuse is a crime that many people suffer in silence, behind closed doors.

“It is devastating to be abused by someone you love and think loves you in return.

“Abuse can take many forms ranging from controlling behaviour, isolating the person from loved ones and friends, financial abuse, physical and sexual violence. It is no surprise that anyone being subjected to this abuse lives in fear and will often be too afraid to seek help. I urge anyone experiencing domestic abuse to seek help by reporting it to us.

“We will use any power available to us to bring offenders to justice to afford protection to the person experiencing the abuse.”

Sally Alexander, vulnerability lawyer for Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “We have seen a 2,655 per cent increase in the use of DVPOs compared to 2016 across Devonand Cornwall, with North and West Devon LPA securing around 50 orders to protect victims this year.

“We have had examples of victims in 30-year-plus marriages who have never disclosed abuse before and we have been able to put in place protective measures to support them with their future lives.”

You can contact police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency) to report any form of abuse.