Support for victims of domestic abuse over festive period as cases expected to rise
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Police are urging people who are experiencing abuse to seek help over the festive season.
Domestic abuse is expected to rise over Christmas and New Year due to the pressures of Covid-19 and a rise in unemployment and financial hardship, and Avon and Somerset Constabulary wants sufferers to know ‘you are not alone’.
Officers are also asking members of the public to be aware of signs of abuse and how to support someone at risk.
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.”
Domestic abuse accounts for 16 per cent of all crime and results in the death of two women each week, and 30 men per year.
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Last December, Avon and Somerset police logged a total of 3,063 cases of domestic abuse – 10.9 per cent higher than the average of the total number of domestic abuse cases recorded between January and November (2,762 cases).
Police also received 132 reports of child abuse, child sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse cases.
Friends, family, neighbours and communities can all play a role in providing vital support and helping to tackle domestic abuse.
Chief Superintendent Carolyn 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.”
Always call 999 in an emergency. If you cannot talk, call 999 and then dial 55 when you hear the operator.
To report people at risk, call 101, or log on to www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/domestic-abuse/