Stark figures from The Police Service of Northern Ireland over the last few years show that there is often a significant spike in domestic abuse incidents over the festive holiday period. This includes psychological abuse with coercive and controlling behaviour creating fear in relationships and homes.
The Police Service, as part of their wider Tis’ the Season Christmas campaign, will be raising awareness of the signs of all types of domestic abuse and encouraging potential victims to report to Police, so that safeguarding action can be taken and the right support put in place.
Sadly, last year during the December and January holiday periods, the Police received a call every 16 minutes related to domestic abuse. 97 incidents and 65 crimes were reported on Christmas Day alone.
On New Year's Day, the Police Service received reports of 161 incidents and 100 crimes of domestic abuse, an increase of 17 on the year before.
Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher said: “Christmas is a time of joy and goodwill for many people, but it can also be a time of real fear and control for those in a physical or emotionally abusive relationship.
“It’s important to remember domestic abuse is not just physical. If you are afraid of someone you live with or who you are in a relationship with, or if you’re walking on eggshells, or have no control over your own life – this is also abuse and we can help you.
“Specialist domestic abuse detectives will be available 24 hours a day during the festive period, and will treat all reports seriously. We work with a range of other agencies to ensure that you will receive support to help you break away from the cycle of abuse.
“There is no excuse for abuse. You are not to blame, the abuser is 100% responsible. Don’t suffer in silence this Christmas.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland also appeals to families and friends to keep an eye out for signs that someone may be a victim of domestic abuse. Sometimes victims are unable to contact the police, which is why it’s so important the people around them who suspect something is going can raise the alarm on their behalf.
Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher added: “We ask that everyone familiarises themselves with the signs of domestic abuse this Christmas. If you have concerns that a family member, a friend or a colleague is a victim of domestic abuse, please contact us.
“We will do everything we can to ensure the people you love are safeguarded and that perpetrators are brought to justice not just at Christmas, but all year round. 24 hours a day, every day.”
If you are suffering at the hands of an abusive partner or family member or worried about someone you love who might be, please report to the Police on 101 or in an emergency always dial 999.
If it is an emergency and you’ve dialled 999 but cannot speak then stay on the line and press 55 when prompted, then cough or tap in response to the operator’s queries. This is called the ‘silent solution’.
A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past on 0808 802 1414.