The Willow Project is a new initiative, funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Derbyshire,  set up to raise awareness around the different challenges faced by victims of domestic abuse in rural areas.   

We will be delivering talks and training, both online and in person (after lockdown of course) around these challenges to give people the confidence to speak out and hopefully challenge the attitudes which perpetuate domestic abuse.  We aren’t a frontline service and won’t work directly with victims except in emergencies, we leave that to the amazing services we already have in Derbyshire. 

I’m sure some of you are thinking “why do we need a project specifically for domestic abuse in rural areas, isn’t domestic abuse the same wherever you live?” 

Well it’s the same to a certain extent however there are some elements which are very different.  I’ll cover a few now. 

Lets imagine you are a shepherdess with a sheepdog which you have trained for the three years, you’ve spent thousands of pounds on this dog, you need it to carry out the only work you have ever done, its your constant companion.  You’re in an abusive marriage and this dog is the only being that shows you any affection at all.  You finally pluck up the courage to tell your other half that you’re leaving and he beats the dog until it urinates on itself.  Your partner knows you cant take an animal into a refuge so he says if you leave the dog here he will shoot it.  That’s a real possibility because he has shotguns in the house, its the countryside, lots of people go shooting as a hobby. 

Its not just the fact that you can’t take your dog in to a refuge which prevents you from leaving, you know that all the refuges are in towns or cities, you’ve never lived in a town, you’re worried about feeling claustrophobic, and how will you get a job as a shepherdess in a city, you don’t have the qualifications or skills to do an office job.   

You feel defeated and like there is no way out. 

This is a very real situation.  It’s happening in lots of rural areas.  Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s not going on. 

Thanks for reading,


To find out more about The Willow Project or becoming a Willow Project Champion please email [email protected] 

Or check out our website 

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Kindly funded by Derbyshire's Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner