THE number of domestic abuse cases logged with Avon and Somerset Police is on the rise as a report reveals survivors in rural areas are likely likely to report it or seek help.

The force is encouraging people in the countryside to look out for the signs as a National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) report suggests abuse in rural areas lasts longer.

A spokesman said the 8.3 per cent rise in reported domestic abuse in the constabulary's patch reflects better policing and victims' growing confidence in the police.

But lack of nearby services, fear of reprisals and the stigma and shame associated with domestic abuse was hampering in-roads being made in rural area.

Supt Deryck Rees, Avon and Somerset Police force lead for domestic abuse, said: "We are encouraging those living in rural locations to be aware of the signs of domestic abuse and how to report.

"It’s not always easy to immediately recognise the signs that someone being abused.

"But, if you notice something isn’t quite right with a friend, neighbour, or someone from your community, we urge you to look, listen, ask and ask again.

"Some of the things to look out for could be your friend being texted an inappropriate number of times by their partner when they aren’t together, sudden lack of contact from someone, or over-hearing abusive language from neighbours during an argument.

"We want to send the message that domestic abuse isn’t something limited to urban areas, it can happen anywhere, and to anyone.

"We all have a responsibility to look out for the signs of someone being manipulated and abused."

Speak to the police on 101 or if someone is in immediate danger call 999.

NRCN chairman Julia Mulligan said: "Our research shows clearly that domestic abuse is hidden under our noses, hidden by abusers who like to keep it that way and on a scale of abuse hitherto unseen.

"All parties with a duty to help victims need to understand that we have missed this.

"We have let victims and survivors down. We have collectively failed. We need to put that right.

“We need to better protect the women, children and men in rural communities who suffer daily at the hands of calculating, manipulating, controlling and violent abusers."

Trudi Grant, director of public health at Somerset County Council said: “Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and from every walk of life.

"The signs of domestic abuse are often difficult to spot, and it can take a whole range of physical and emotional forms.

"If you are worried about someone, remember that if something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t. Don’t ignore a gut feeling or the small signs, but seek professional advice first before you try to help."