MORE battered women are fleeing their homes in a Teesside town than anywhere else in the country.

Experts have no reason to believe the scale of domestic violence in Middlesbrough is worse than the national average of one-in-four women.

But according to Becky Rogerson, research and development manager at the Middlesbrough Refuge, 48 per cent of all "homeless" applications made to Middlesbrough Council are made by victims, whereas the average for other housing authorities across the UK is just 20 per cent.

"It shows what an impact domestic violence has on families, not just the women but the children as well," she said.

The multi-agency Middlesbrough Domestic Violence Forum supported 193 woman in Middlesbrough between April and December last year and was successful in obtaining 38 injunctions against violent partners.

Two of the injunctions made legal history as the victims applied for the orders themselves, avoiding solicitors and legal costs.

Yesterday saw the launch of an advertising campaign in the town. Advertisements have been placed on the backs of 35 buses and in the interiors of 150.

The adverts feature Middlesbrough's Women's Advice Centre - My Sisters Place.

Ms Rogerson said: "My Sisters Place is a new facility, a one stop shop so women can access all services in one centre, housing, money problems, legal support and emotional support."

The development houses an IT centre where victims can learn basic computer skills to give them a better chance of getting a job.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: "The launch of this initiative is intended to make victims of domestic violence in Middlesbrough aware of this unique facility, which deals with all inquiries in relation to domestic violence.

"We support it and would encourage anyone who needs the facility to use it."

Debby Roxby, for the council's housing services, said: "The campaign highlights that, in partnership with other agencies, we are all working together to stop domestic violence."

Ms Rogerson said: "It's everybody's problem, a social problem."

The 11-family room Middlesbrough Refuge is full.