The “traumatic” impact of psychological abuse and controlling behaviour is being highlighted in two videos by the Metropolitan Police as part of a campaign to get more victims to seek help.
The force has produced two short films shining a spotlight on both physical and psychological domestic abuse.
The films show a woman being plagued with text messages from a controlling and abusive boyfriend, before she breaks down in tears at the doctor’s surgery.
In the psychological abuse video the boyfriend’s messages become more and more angry, beginning with simply “where are you”, and eventually demanding that she “CALL ME NOW!”.
When the victim replies she’s at the doctor’s, he accuses her of lying and asks her “what are you really doing?”.
Both films encourage victims – both men and women – to seek help and say that NHS staff, the police and charities are there to help them.
Zena, who in 2016 was assaulted by her ex-husband, said showing the films in GP surgeries was a good idea because she would often sit there wanting to cry, hoping someone would ask her the “right questions”.
She added: “It’s good to put out a message that domestic abuse is more than just physical abuse; in my experience the controlling and following was the worst.
“People may not realise that messaging and turning up unannounced is abuse, so I think it’s great that the police are sending the message that abuse isn’t just physical.
“I suffered domestic abuse for a long time and I only realised it through the experiences of others.
“The best thing I ever did was report it to police after I left an abusive relationship. It has taken me a long time to get back to a good place.”
The Met said there were 1.9 million victims of domestic abuse last year, nearly two-thirds of whom were women.
The videos were released on Thursday to coincide with a 16-day campaign around domestic abuse which began on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25.
The videos, which are supported by Women’s Aid, Refuge, NHS England and the London Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, will be played in GP surgeries across London.
The force said psychological abuse and coercive control are often overlooked as a form of domestic abuse.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Vandenbergh, who came up with the idea to create the videos, said: “Domestic abuse is more than just violence. It is also the psychological and emotional abuse from a partner, which can traumatise the victim.
“These videos clearly show this and I hope give a rounded view of what a victim could be going through.
“I hope these videos strike a chord with those who might be experiencing domestic abuse, and encourage them to come forward and report it, so they can be fully supported, not only by the police but by other charities and partner agencies.”