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Christmas is not a time of peace and love for victims of domestic abuse.

Posted November 29, 2017

Domestic Violence

Christmas is not a time of peace and love for victims of domestic abuse.

For most of us December marks the beginning of the build up to Christmas. There’s shopping to be done, rooms to be decorated, parties and religious services to attend, and over the holiday period, time to be spent enjoying the company of loved ones.

However, for many people, Christmas is not a time of joy, but a time of control and abuse. The festive season signals a time to be on edge, to be fearful knowing that even a tiny incident or disagreement has the potential to quickly escalate into an act of violence. Domestic abuse and violence occur all year round but the combination of financial pressures, higher levels of alcohol consumption and increased time spent with family cause a spike in incidents at this time of year.

Domestic abuse is not just about violence, it includes verbal, sexual, psychological, financial or emotional abuse. It is the use of intimidation to control a partner, former partner or adult family member either inside or outside the home.

Victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse can be either male or female, although the majority of victims are female and the majority of perpetrators are male. Domestic abuse and violence affects one woman in four at some point in her lifetime and it kills two women every week in the UK.

Many victims find it difficult to reach out for help and support over the Christmas period as often an abusive partner may be spending more time at home, reducing opportunities to get time and privacy to seek help.

Support groups such as Women’s Aid generally see a reduction in calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline over Christmas compared to other times of year. Understandingly many women want to “keep it together” for the children and so they wait until Christmas is over before making a call.

Talking to someone can be the first step towards accessing information and support, so it is vital that friends and family reach out and support anyone they suspect is living under threat.

Women's Aid have a series of practical tips and advice to help people reach out to friends and family who may be at risk:

·       Listen to her, try to understand and take care not to blame her. Tell her that she is not alone and that there are many women like her in the same situation.

·       Acknowledge that it takes strength to trust someone enough to talk to them about experiencing abuse. Give her time to talk, but don’t push her to go into too much detail if she doesn’t want to.

·       Acknowledge that she is in a frightening and very difficult situation.

·       Tell her that no one deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what her abuser has told her. Nothing she can do or say can justify the abuser’s behaviour.

·       Support her as a friend. Encourage her to express her feelings, whatever they are. Allow her to make her own decisions.

·       Don’t tell her to leave the relationship if she is not ready to do this. This is her decision.

·       Ask if she has suffered physical harm. If so, offer to go with her to a hospital or to see her GP.

·       Help her to report the assault to the police if she chooses to do so.

·       Be ready to provide information on organisations that offer help to abused women and their children. Explore the available options with her. Tell her about the National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge) on 0800 2000 247, and how to access the website.

·       Go with her to visit a solicitor if she is ready to take this step.

·       Plan safe strategies for leaving an abusive relationship.

·       Let her create her own boundaries of what she thinks is safe and what is not safe; don’t urge her to follow any strategies that she expresses doubt about.

·       Offer your friend the use of your address and/or telephone number to leave information and messages, and tell her you will look after an emergency bag for her, if she wants this.

·       Look after yourself while you are supporting someone through such a difficult and emotional time. Ensure that you do not put yourself into a dangerous situation; for example, do not offer to talk to the abuser about your friend or let yourself be seen by the abuser as a threat to their relationship.

Some useful telephone numbers & contacts for those in need of help & support.

·       Refuge - Domestic violence help for women and children - 0808 2000 247

·       Visit Women's Aid - support for abused women and children – or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247

·       Broken Rainbow - The LGBT domestic violence charity - 0845 2 60 55 60

·       Men’s Advice Line for advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse - 0808 801 0327

·       Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline – 0808 802 1414 – Both Women & Men

·       Email: Website:

·       Emergency services : Tel 999

·       Achieve Wellbeing Counselling Services Magherafelt. Tel 07792 813171 / 07849 511369.



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