A CAMPAIGN to tackle domestic violence is being launched in the New Forest following a 21 per cent jump in calls from victims.

Posters highlighting the issue are being displayed across the district in a bid to help people living in fear in their own home.

The bright red posters include emergency contact numbers and a silhouette of a human head covered in words often associated with domestic abuse.

They have been produced by the district council in a move backed by senior police officers.

Chief Inspector Tony Rowlinson said: “Domestic abuse often goes on behind closed doors and the victim is often too scared to report it.

“I sincerely hope the new campaign will highlight the fact that anybody suffering this terrible crime is not alone.

“There are a number of professional agencies ready and willing to give them all the support they need to break the cycle of abuse.”

The issue was raised at a meeting of the council’s community overview and scrutiny panel.

A report to councillors said a review last year found that the number of calls made by victims had risen by 21 per cent.

It added: “The rise in reported incidents was felt to reflect an increase in the reporting of domestic incidents, rather than an actual increase in the number happening.”

But the authority says it fears that too many victims are still suffering in silence.

Councillor Jill Cleary, Cabinet member for housing and communities, said: “Whether the abuse is physical or emotional, there are organisations that are just a phone call away.

“We hope our eye-catching posters will encourage victims to recognise the signs of abuse and act to stop it.”

The report presented to the scrutiny panel said more than 500 domestic incidents were recorded as crimes between September 1, 2011 and August 31 last year.

The vast majority of victims were woman, most of whom were aged between 18 and 27, but more than 100 men were also affected.

The report added: “Domestic abuse is rarely a one-off incident and should be seen as a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour, through the abuser seeking power over their victim.”