Sadly, figures show that instances of domestic abuse and violence against women increase over the festive period as tensions at home sometimes boil over into abuse. It is therefore particularly important that victims are aware of the support available by calling the 24 hour Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 80 10 800.
The Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline is open 24 hours per day, 365 days of the year, providing free, confidential advice and support to women, men and children experiencing domestic abuse. Last year the helpline managed a total of 22,285 calls which is an increase of 176% since 2004. The number of calls the helpline staff answer continues to grow, between April and November this year the helpline received 15,386 calls which is an increase of 18% on the same period the last year.
During the Christmas period the number of calls received by the helpline staff rises to a peak. In December last year the helpline managed 2,205 calls, an average of over 71 calls each day from people suffering from domestic abuse.
The types of calls the helpline staff receive are diverse as domestic abuse can take many forms; emotional, psychological, physical, sexual or financial abuse.
The Welsh Assembly Government is committed to tackling violence against women and domestic abuse. This is why the Social Justice Minister Carl Sargeant has pledged to continue to protect the violence against women and domestic abuse budget. The violence against women and domestic abuse draft budget for 2011/12 amounts to £4.4 million.
The Minister said,
“The Wales Domestic Abuse helpline staff provide an invaluable service, especially during December when the stresses and strains of Christmas sadly result in a significant rise in the number of people suffering from domestic abuse.
“Victims of domestic violence are often too afraid or too ashamed to speak out and a dedicated helpline such as this one are a real life line. For many people making that first telephone call and talking to a stranger about their problems is the first step to breaking away from the cycle of violence at home.
“It is vital that people understand that any form of domestic abuse is a crime, and is totally unacceptable. I therefore urge people in abusive relationships to call the helpline to receive advice and support. The helpline staff are there to listen 24 hours a day, all you need to do is talk.”
Paula Hardy, the Chief Executive of Welsh Women's Aid, added,
"Even when everything is going well, Christmas can still be a difficult time for families. People who might not spend more than a few hours everyday in each other’s company are suddenly thrown together for long days on end.
“The festive period is also a time when levels of stress, alcohol use and indebtedness are all increased. If you live in an abusive family, the tensions arising from these issues can reach fever pitch and sometimes spill over into violence and abuse.”