Domestic violence 'peaks' over Christmas

Published Wednesday, 19 December 2012
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A victim of domestic abuse has described how she felt the festive season was like "walking on eggshells", as police reveal one case is reported every 23 minutes in Northern Ireland.

Domestic violence 'peaks' over Christmas
Police launch their latest domestic violence campaign ahead of Christmas. (© PSNI)

Attacks are most frequent over Christmas and the PSNI has urged anyone who suffers at the hands of an abusive partner to report the crime.

"It was very difficult, he would have been at home more and been off work," Janet* told UTV.

"It was particularly hard to keep the children quiet and to try and keep the house running smooth and not to upset him."

So far in 2012 there have been more than 13,500 incidents of domestic abuse, a rise of over 1,000 on the same period last year, with figures highest in Foyle, north Belfast and Lisburn.

But police believe a significant number of attacks are still going unreported.

"We know from our research that incidents of domestic abuse rise over the festive season," explained Detective Superintendent Alan Skelton.

"It is a frightening crime which can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender or sexuality. Very often victims are isolated.

"No one should have to endure abuse and I want to encourage all victims of domestic abuse to come forward and report the matter to the police."

Janet was in an abusive marriage for over a decade and said the festive period was often the most difficult.

Christmas puts more pressure on because there is family become closer and you are more frightened of them seeing the cracks.

Janet*

"You are under more pressure from the perpetrator to hide and to keep your mouth shut and to put on a face. You are always walking on eggshells."

Police relaunched their domestic abuse advertising campaign on Wednesday in a bid to highlight the ways in which they can help those who are suffering.

"We take domestic abuse very seriously and have dedicated Domestic Abuse Officers /Public Protection Officers in all districts across Northern Ireland to ensure that all domestic abuse crimes are investigated, as well as providing support and information to victims about police procedures and legal proceedings," explained DS Skelton.

And while he said more people go to organisation such as Women's Aid, Gail McLaughlin from the charity said they work together to help tackle domestic violence.

"We welcome the increase in reporting of abuse - we know that it's happening to an estimated one in four women across Northern Ireland and feel encouraged that victims are coming forward.

"We are happy to support this initiative by Police Service of Northern Ireland and can assure anyone living with abuse that they are not to blame nor are they on their own - support from a range of agencies is available for them," she added.

© UTV News
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