THIS Christmas, amid the pressures and concerns of COVID-19, increases in unemployment and financial hardship, police are concerned about domestic – and other types of abuse – increasing.
Avon and Somerset Police are encouraging anyone experiencing abuse to make contact, telling them ‘You are not alone’.
Police are also asking members of the public to be aware of signs of abuse and how to support someone that they think, or know, is at risk.
According to official figures domestic abuse will affect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime. For two women each week and 30 men per year, it will end in murder. It accounts for 16 per cent of all violent crime.
Last December, Avon and Somerset Police logged a total of 3,063 cases of domestic abuse – 10.9% higher than the average of the total number of domestic abuse cases recorded between January and November (2,762 cases).
Also logged were a total of 132 child abuse, child sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse cases – 8.5% higher than the average total number of cases recorded between January and November (122 cases).
A police spokesperson said: “Abuse can happen to someone of any background or occupation, as well as any gender, age, religion, sexuality, nationality, race or disability.
“There are many types of abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual or financial. Abuse, including neglect, can also be targeted at elders (over 65s) or children.
“Last week, a Chief Inspector and a PCSO from Avon and Somerset Police shared their own moving accounts of how they found themselves trapped in situations of domestic abuse.
“Both stories show how affectionate relationships can subtly turn into abuse, as perpetrators begin to use controlling behaviour, damage the other person’s self-confidence and isolate them from friends and family.
The accounts were shared on social media, in the hope that they might empower other survivors to break their silence and seek help as soon as possible.”
Chief Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte, Avon and Somerset Police’s lead on vulnerability said: “While many of us are looking forward to being at home for Christmas, for some people home can be a lonely, isolated or unsafe place and they may be living in fear of what the festive season could bring.
“Our message to anyone who is suffering, or has suffered, abuse is to please find a way to speak to us. We know it isn’t easy to reach out, but we are here for you, you will be believed and we can help.” Friends, family, neighbours and communities can all play a role in providing vital support.
Ch Supt Belafonte added: “The greatest gift you can give someone this Christmas is looking out for them, recognising signs of abuse and understanding what to do to help them.
“If you believe someone is being abused, keep checking on them and encouraging them to talk to you, even if they say they are OK.
“Abusers play on fear and victims will find it very hard to speak out, so please follow your instincts and alert us if you believe someone is at risk. We are here 24/7, including over Christmas, to provide support and protection to everyone who needs us.”
Call 101 or report online at https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/domestic-abuse/.
Always call 999 in an emergency or you are in danger. If you can’t talk, call 999 then dial 55 when you hear the operator to be put through to police.
Details of different types of abuse and the signs to look out for can be found on the Avon and Somerset Police website: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/news/2020/12/you-are-not-alone-knowing-the-signs-of-abuse-this-christmas/.
More information and details of local and national domestic abuse services can be found at Avon and Somerset Police’s dedicated website: https://www.thisisnotanexcuse.org/.