THE end of Domestic Violence Awareness Week was marked by the release of white balloons into the Swindon sky.

Yesterday’s event, which aimed to raise awareness of the issue, was organised by the local Community Safety Project along with the Women’s Refuge and coincided with The International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women.

Balloons were released at the Civic Offices at 10.30am, where Swindon mayor Ray Ballman and agencies working to stamp out domestic abuse joined in with the tying of white ribbon around a tree.

The group, accompanied by the Community Safety Bus, then moved to Wharf Green, where they released more balloons, and spoke to members of the public.

Lin Williams, domestic violence reduction co-ordinator for the CSP, was pleased with the event and the message it spread.

“We wanted to raise awareness of all kinds of violence towards women,” she said. “We want people to know domestic violence is a crime.”

It is estimated that one in every four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, which equates to around 24,000 in Swindon alone. Those who suffer are encouraged to come forward by the Swindon Women’s Refuge, and Kim, a senior member of staff within the group, insists that victims must contact them.

She said: “There is no shame in coming forward. It shows strength to speak out, and if people do that they can end the suffering.

The refuge offers a haven and support for victims and members of their family affected by domestic abuse.

One ex-resident at the refuge, Vale, feels that action is needed to stop people suffering in silence.

“I’m really grateful that people are raising awareness towards domestic violence,” she said.

“There should be more done to make people aware that it does happen, and days like this are huge for that reason.”

As well as the release of the balloons there was also the opportunity for members of the public to have their say on domestic violence, in the form of a wish to be hung on a tree, which Kim says will serve as a reminder of the day: “The tree offers residents and the public the opportunity to write down their thoughts and help with what we are doing.

“The tree will then be planted in our garden. The wishes will be put into a book to be kept at the refuge for people to read.”