While most of us are looking forward to a happy Christmas, for some it is a time when their recurring nightmare becomes even worse.
Figures from previous years between December and January show an average increase of 22% of reports of domestic abuse in West Lancashire.
Lancashire Police figures show that between 10 December 2012 and 10 January 2013 there were 201 domestic abuse crimes in its Southern Division, which includes West Lancashire, a rise of 56 compared to the previous year.
Between April 2013 and October 2013 the Liberty Centre – formerly known as Domestic Violence Support Services (West Lancashire) – had 5,000 calls from vulnerable people and agencies working on their behalf to its helpline and and other services. These services include a refuge, legal advice and support in the community. People using centre projects often make more than one call.
The West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership is sending a message to victims that help is available to try and help those suffering during the festive period
This coincides with a new campaign by the Police and Crime commissioner for Lancashire entitled ‘Take the Step...Make the call’.
Aims of the campaign include promoting the support mechanisms available to victims. It also wants to dispel the myth that domestic abuse is purely physical abuse. Controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour can also constitute abuse.
Anyone who is forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused.
For more details go to the Take The Step campaign website (external link).
Research has shown that abuse can happen at any stage of a relationship and is very rarely a ‘one-off’. One in four women will suffer from domestic abuse at some stage in their lives.
Councillor David Sudworth, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “It is important to stress that while more than 80 per cent of victims in domestic violence cases are women, but men are also the victims of domestic abuse.
“If you are reading this and think you are a victim of domestic abuse please talk to someone you trust. Or you can call the police, or the Liberty Centre or a national helpline.”
West Lancashire geographic police inspector Christina Shorrock said: “Domestic abuse can devastate families and relationships and we are committed to providing victims with the help and support they deserve.
“It is important that victims do not suffer in silence and the figures released suggest that more victims are having the confidence to come forward and report domestic abuse. I would reassure anyone that is suffering to speak to the police or one of the many voluntary services that provide such a valuable support to victims.”
In Lancashire 15,743 children live in households where police were called to a domestic abuse incident, according to the MADE Domestic Abuse report 2012-13,
The Liberty Centre has a free confidential 24 hour helpline number 0808 100 3062 which is open to callers over the Christmas period. The centre’s confidential counselling and legal advice services for victims will open every day except the bank holidays. A full service will be provided throughout the festive period at The West Lancashire Women’s Refuge which offers short term emergency accommodation.
Eleanor Maddocks, chief executive of the Liberty Centre, said: “Domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviour which does not stop because it is Christmas. This year during the Christmas period we will be supporting over 200 men, women and children.”
The National Domestic Violence Helpline number is 0808 2000 247. It is free and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and will operate throughout the Christmas period. All calls are confidential.
The Broken Rainbow national helpline number for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is 0300 999 5428.
The police can be contacted on their non-emergency number 101 and specify your location, or in an emergency ring 999.
David Tilleray, West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership chairman, added: “Domestic abuse is a crime. We want victims to know they are not alone and if they approach those services that can help them their complaints will be handled with care by people sympathetic to what they are going through.
“We would also urge members of the community to report any problems with domestic violence they are aware of.”
Donations to the Liberty Centre can be made by text. To donate £5 please text REFUGE to 70500. To give £3 please text REFUGE to 70300. To donate £1 text SAFETY to 70500.
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