Most of us will have an enjoyable time at Christmas, but for some it is a time when their recurring nightmare becomes even worse.
Last year (2014/15) police in West Lancashire recorded more cases of domestic abuse crimes in December than in any other month of the year.
Over the last 12 months, there were 134 cases of domestic abuse in West Lancashire where someone was charged for the case to proceed to court.
In 50% of domestic violence cases, the children can get hurt too, either by being subjected to domestic violence themselves or witnessing it.
The Liberty Centre (West Lancashire) has received 848 referrals between January and September 2015. Many of these were referred by the police or other agencies, while others referred themselves. More than a third of them were deemed to be at a medium or high risk of domestic violence and The Liberty Centre is currently supporting 80-85 families per month.
The West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership (WLCSP) is sending a message to victims that help is available to try and help those suffering during the festive period.
Anyone who is forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused. 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.
For more details about services available to people suffering domestic violence please visit domestic violence.
Councillor Kevin Wright, Portfolio Holder for Health and Community Safety, said: “If you are reading this and think you are a victim of domestic abuse, or you think someone else may be a victim, please talk to someone you trust. Or you can call the police, or the Liberty Centre or a national helpline.
“It is important to stress that while more than 80 per cent of victims in domestic violence cases are women, men are also the victims of domestic abuse.”
West Lancashire police inspector June Chessell said: “We cannot allow victims of domestic abuse to suffer. We will act to bring perpetrators to justice whenever we can and will work with our partner agencies to support victims to leave abusive relationships.”
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 does not stop because it is Christmas. “For too many women and children, it will be a time of living with intimidation, fear and violence. The Christmas period which is meant to be a time of happiness & joy is often the most difficult time for them.” For those victims of domestic violence or abuse who prefer not to use the phone, they can now contact The Liberty Centre via Facebook (external link) and The Liberty centre (external link). The Broken Rainbow national helpline numbers for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are 0800 999 5428, and 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 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 via The Liberty centre (external link).
Notes to editor: The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge is 0808 2000 247. The helpline will be open 24 hours a day over the Christmas period.