Children are ‘forgotten’ victims of abuse

PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 December 2010

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse

Archant

THE ‘forgotten’ victims of domestic abuse are often children - and during the Christmas period it is easy for abusive parents to put their own needs before their kids.

That is the view of Juley Howard, manager of North Somerset Against Domestic Abuse (NADA), who is encouraging parents experiencing domestic abuse to ‘change their lives’ for the better this festive season.

NADA doesn’t receive many calls from people who want to leave home in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas Day.

But Juley says as soon as the day is over victims ring up the organisation saying they need to get away.

She told the Mercury: “I have huge respect and sympathy for the women and children in local refuges who have had to cut ties with their families at this time of year. Children usually love their fathers, even when they are abusive to their mothers.

“Like most of us they want everything to be alright, the abuse to stop, not for that parent to go away.

“A couple of years ago I heard of an estranged couple who on Christmas Eve went into a police station and persuaded the sergeant on duty to vary the husband’s bail so that he could go home for Christmas.

“But his apologies and flowers were empty promises and then the children were at serious risk from his violence when he continued to assault his wife into the New Year.”

Juley is urging abusive parents to put aside their dominant feelings of wanting a united family front this Christmas – if it means their partner and children will be hurt in the long-term.

She added: “The best Christmas present an abusive parent can give to his – or her – children over the festive period is to step back from their own needs, and start that process of change now.

“Do it without involving your partner or ex-partner, otherwise you will just blame them if it all goes wrong again.”

Her lasting message to abusers is ‘face up to the truth’ – and ‘if you really change then perhaps your family will forgive you’.

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