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A broken bauble: domestic abuse rises over Christmas

Instances of domestic abuse are on the rise and are more frequent at Christmas, a new survey reveals

  • Assault and domestic murders increase 25 per cent during the festive period 
  • 84,526 cases of domestic abuse related offences were recorded last year in the North West
  • Women's Voices: 'Women in the community don't accept they've been abused. They think it's normal.'

Officials are bracing themselves for an upsurge in domestic violence over the Christmas period in Manchester and the North West.

Last year it was recorded that the North West had the second highest number of reported incidents of domestic violence in the UK.

In a survey conducted by the ONS, figures show that 84,526 instances of domestic abuse related offences were recorded across the North West alone in the period April 2017- March 2018.

By a large majority, survivors of domestic abuse accessing Independent Domestic Violence Advisors were women aged between 25-35.

Although domestic violence is prevalent throughout the year, research indicates that excessive alcohol consumption over the festive season is linked with an increase in cases of domestic violence.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, said: “It tends to be a period when an abusive partner may be spending more time at home and monitoring her behaviour more closely than ever.”

Domestic abuse facts and figures
Gender-based violence: women are disproportionately affected by domestic abuse in the UK.

According to UK government figures from 2012, assault and domestic murders increase 25 per cent during the festive period and incidents go up by a third on Christmas Day itself.

Domestic abuse is officially categorised as ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse. It can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional’.

The Longsight-based organisation Women’s Voices focuses on helping women seek asylum, escape forced marriages and supports women in abusive relationships.

Nayab Butt, a volunteer for the organisation, told NQ that sometimes cultural and family pressures prevent women from coming forward about domestic abuse.

She said: “In the community most women don’t come forward because they’re scared, or they think it’s not normal to talk about [domestic abuse] or that they have been abused.

 Most of the women in the community don’t accept that they’ve been abused. They think that it’s a normal thing and it runs in the family - they don’t consider it domestic abuse

On the cyclical nature of domestic abuse, Nayab added: “They should come forward when they think they’re being abused. If they have kids, they’re learning from their mum. If they don’t come forward the kids will think that it’s normal – they’ll adopt that same thinking from their family.”

Last year, Women’s Voices took part in the arts project Women Who Dare – promoting freedom of expression and giving a voice to the women of the Manchester Pakistani Community.

Across all areas of the country, instances of domestic abuse related crime have significantly risen, meaning that the need for awareness and support are at an all-time high.

Organisations such as End Violence Against Women have already called for a re-evaluation of Relationships and Sex Education in schools in an attempt to combat abuse, labelling the current programme as ‘woefully inadequate’.

For information on recognising and reporting domestic abuse, visit Refuge.org.uk or call their 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

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