Somerset County Council is urging the public and employers to look out for the signs of domestic abuse this Christmas.
Whilst most people look forward to spending time with their loved ones at Christmas, for people experiencing domestic abuse the thought of being alone with their abuser can be a frightening time.
Councillor Adam Dance, Lead Executive Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity at Somerset County Council, said:
Christmas should be a time of joyful celebration but sadly cases of domestic abuse surge at this time of the year. They are often fuelled by the stresses of the season – financial pressures, increased alcohol consumption, family quarrels, spending more time together in a relationship and that quest to make Christmas perfect.
I would urge everyone, to take a look at the information available on the Somerset Survivors Website about the signs of domestic abuse. Look out for those signs in the relationships of people around you when you are visiting friends and family this Christmas.
Domestic abuse is defined as ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality’.
You can find out more about the signs of domestic abuse here.
Somerset County Council offer support through their service, Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (SIDAS). Their website contains information on how to access confidential, non-judgemental help and advice if you have a friend, family member, neighbour or colleague who you think may be in a relationship with a partner or an adult family member, who has been abusive towards them. Find out more here.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, making it likely that we all know someone who may be suffering behind closed doors.
The council has also launched an employers’ toolkit which can be downloaded from their website which aims to aid employers on how to support their employees and help tackle domestic abuse.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, worried about someone you know, or are concerned about the impact of your behaviour towards others, then free, non-judgemental help is available: www.somersetsurvivors.org.uk or by telephoning 0800 49 69 999.
In an emergency you should always dial 999, if you are worried that an abuser may overhear your call you can remain silent and dial 55 for help.