VICTIMS of domestic abuse are urged not to suffer in silence this Christmas amid predictions incidents could soar.
Services are preparing for a surge in calls as families spend more time together, drinking increases, pressures mount and domestic violence incidents traditionally rise.
Last year, 323 calls relating to domestic violence were made to police in Portsmouth over Christmas and New Year – up 13 per cent year-on-year from 285. And 119 people were arrested for the crimes – up nine per cent from 109.
Kirsty Mellor, chairwoman of Portsmouth’s White Ribbon group, said: ‘We are urging victims of domestic abuse to come forward this Christmas.
‘It is not tolerated at any time of year. Historically though, incidents do increase over Christmas with pressures on families, money worries and alcohol being consumed. For victims, Christmas will be anything but enjoyable.
‘It’s not just adults who are affected, it’s the children as well and they can be severely traumatised.’
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, the city’s director of public health and wellbeing, said: ‘I’d urge everyone to do all they can to ensure that this year we don’t see the usual rise in domestic violence over Christmas with all the misery and distress it causes.’
Chief Inspector Ali Heydari said: ‘We do recognise that more cases are reported during the Christmas and New Year period and have extra resources in place to address these calls.
‘A domestic abuse unit will be in operation to respond quickly to calls and take action to stop the cycle of domestic abuse. We also work closely with our partners to signpost victims of domestic abuse to the appropriate advice and support.’
Shonagh Dillon, chief executive of voluntary sector organisation Aurora New Dawn which supports survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse, said: ‘Victims and survivors are not on their own. They can get confidential support and advice.’
Teenager tells how mum was attacked
A BRAVE 13-year-old boy has spoken out about his experiences at Christmas while his mum was being subjected to domestic abuse at the hands of her now ex-partner.
The Portsmouth teenager, who does not want to be named, is urging other young people living with the devastating effects of abuse in the home to speak out – before it is too late.
He said: ‘When my mum was with her ex, Christmas was always hard. There was always a fight and I remember my mum packing me and my baby brother up and we had to go and stay with family.
‘There was one time my mum said something he didn’t like and he punched her in the face.
‘I was so scared, I wanted to help her that night.
‘On Christmas day we went and stayed at my gran’s house.
‘Mum ended up back with him and I wish that she didn’t.
‘We are not with him now and I’m looking forward to Christmas.
‘If you are a kid and domestic abuse is happening in your house please talk to someone.
‘We all have the right to live without fear.’
· For information on local services call the 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247
· Call ChildLine on 0800 1111.
· Call Portsmouth Refuge on (023) 9229 1034.
· Call Havant Refuge on (023) 9248 0246.
· Young people can visit thehideout.org.uk.
· Visit nspcc.org.uk or call 0808 800 5000.