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Day 16. Christmas & Abuse

16% of the UK Live in Fear of Abuse Over Christmas

For 16% of the UK, the stress at home caused by Christmas leaves them in fear of abuse over the festive period.

Two hands reaching for each other with the words '16% of the UK live in fear of abuse over Christmas. Where to get help and how to help others.

 

A survey conduced by Stowe Family Law found that over the Christmas period, 16% of people fear they will suffer physical or emotional abuse. While for many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, for victims of abuse, Christmas can be the most feared time of the year. No case is the same and the reasons the fear can be heightened at Christmas are plentiful, but these include money worries, increased alcohol consumption, and more time spent with abusive partners.

Christmas does not cause domestic abuse, abusers do. But adding it to an already unsafe environment can heighten the fear for many victims. Refuge published a series of reversible poems in 2018 to demonstrate how different Christmas can look for victims of abuse and their families, and the reality of domestic violence:

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Spotting the Signs over Christmas

Situations involving emotional or physical abuse need to be treated with caution. If you suspect someone you know may be experiencing any kind of abuse, always get in touch with an expert (see below) or the police in the first instance. Do not confront the abuser, as this could make things worse.

There are many signs of abuse, and many abusers may be very good at ‘putting on a front’. Some signs may include:

  • Possessiveness or Jealousy
  • Control over clothing/outfits, where they go and who they see
  • Control over finances, devices, transport or even medication
  • Mood swings/dramatic mood changes, the victim justifying their bad mood
  • Pressure to do things
  • Belittling them, putting them down or making them uncomfortable in group situations

White Ribbon have also highlighted what violence against women can look like:

Violence against women and girls can happen anywhere and takes many forms – from sexist jokes online to harassing behaviours on the train. Some behaviours may be dismissed as ‘small’ or ‘low-level’ acts: sharing sexist ‘jokes’ at work or in group chats; catcalling women in the street; or harassing women on a night out. These all contribute towards creating a culture of fear and misogyny that encourages violence and abuse against women. In spaces where these behaviours are normalised, it can lead to more extreme cases of violence.

Stop Violence before it Starts

White Ribbon is the UK’s largest leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls. Their aim is to stop violence before it starts. Join their cause and take the White Ribbon promise here, to never use, excuse, or remain silent about men’s violence against women.

White Ribbon Day 2023 was on the 25th of November, which was the first day of ’16 Days of Action’:

Culture change doesn’t happen overnight, but we can end men’s violence against women and girls in our lifetimes.  This year, we are encouraging individuals and organisations to make consistent choices and actions to #ChangeTheStory for women and girls, so that they may live their lives free from the fear of violence.
Violence experienced by women and girls takes many forms. Some behaviours and words may seem ‘harmless’ but normalising them ignores the short- and long-term effects on women and can lead to more extreme violence.  Being allies with women every day shouldn’t be underestimated — even the smallest actions can affect big change.

The Service Directory 

North Yorkshire Service Directory Co-ordinator, Lizzie Berriman, has shared their poster of the month, with the following message: 

Christmas is a time for joy but sadly this isn’t the case for everyone. Across the UK police forces often see a spike in domestic abuse cases at Christmas.
During the festive period an increase in alcohol consumption and financial pressure within families can lead to physical abuse within relationships. It can also be a catalyst for psychological abuse with coercive and controlling behaviour creating fear in relationships and homes. 
This month’s poster highlights the support services available via the Service Directory in relation to Domestic Abuse support services.

Service Directory Agency Focus – Domestic Abuse 2023 PDF

Find Help

You do not have to feel alone this Christmas. If you, or someone you know is living in fear of abuse, there is help available:

Register to text the emergency services: Use Relay UK, or when you call 999 on your mobile, press 55 to Make Yourself Heard and let the 999 operator know your call is genuine. This service was specifically developed for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech, but it is also proving effective for those suffering from domestic abuse who cannot openly make voice calls to the emergency services.

Report Domestic Abuse by calling 999

National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247

Contact IDAS – the largest specialist charity in North Yorkshire supporting people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence. They have lots of ways you can get help, or assist someone else;

The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327

The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428

Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123

LGBT Foundation (9am-6pm): 0345 330 3030

Contact North Yorkshire Council if you have a concern about a child or vulnerable adult in the area

Rape Crisis line: 0808 801 0327

Modern Slavery assistance: 0800 0121 700

+Choices – Support for perpetrators who wish to address their abusive behaviour is available for anyone aged 16 years and over who is a low-risk perpetrator of domestic abuse

A further list of support organisations can be found here, for:

  • National Support Organisations
  • Support for LGBTQ+
  • Support for the deaf or hard of hearing
  • Support for Children
  • Support for parents and caregivers
  • Support for forced marriage and honour-based abuse survivors

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, always call 999.