POLICE in Oxford are busting the myths around honour-based abuse (HBA) as their Hidden Harm campaign continues.

The force has spent the past two weeks raising awareness of HBA, a crime committed to defend the perceived honour of a family or community.

Between April 2014 and March of this year, officers dealt with 128 HBA-related incidents in Oxford, 52 in Cherwell and West Oxfordshire and 18 in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse.

During the same period there were a total of 1,200 HBA incidents across the Thames Valley.

Now, Thames Valley Police are dispelling some of the many common misconceptions surrounding the crime.

One common myth is that honour-based abuse is targeted exclusively at women. However, anybody can be targeted. For example, in 2016, 20 per cent of the cases the Forced Marriage Unit dealt with involved male victims.

Another misconception is that abuse that does not leave a victim physically hurt does not need to be reported to police. Honour-based abuse can be emotional or sexual and the force has urged victims not to wait for a crime to be committed before contacting them.

Police say many people conflate some of the different types of honour-based abuse, like forced and arranged marriages. An arranged marriage has willing participants while a forced marriage is when someone is made to marry without consent.

Detective Superintendent Nick John, Head of Thames Valley Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People unit, said: “There are a number of different ways honour based abuse can manifest itself. For example, someone may be abused by their family for being in a relationship with a person of the same sex or from a different culture, they may not want to take part in an arranged marriage or they may be simply wearing clothing or taking part in activities not considered ‘traditional’.

“The abuse doesn’t have to be physical, it can be emotional or sexual and may involve threats of violence, false imprisonment, stalking, forced marriage and in some cases, even murder.

“Honour based abuse is about beliefs and customs and an expectation that an individual should behave in a certain way or they will bring shame or dishonour on their family or the wider community."

TVP will also support the National Day of Memory for Honour Based Killings today.