Family Law

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Domestic abuse and another Covid Christmas

View profile for Victoria Poole
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As we cautiously look forward to a Christmas spent with loved ones this year, we’re coping with the current Plan A measures and waiting with baited breath for rumoured Plan B or C restrictions to be imposed.

And despite it being a magical time of year for many, the festive holidays frequently add stress and pressure to even the most stable of families,

But for some, Christmas is an unbearably stressful time full of fear and upset as domestic abuse can often manifest or increase during this time.

Throw two years of Covid restrictions on top and it can truly be a recipe for disaster.


Now and then

Historically, although national domestic abuse charities experience a decrease in calls during a ‘average’ Christmas while victims try to ‘keep it together for the family’, police forces actually see a surge in reported cases.

Horrific statistics clearly support this feedback - 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.

Mid-Covid, after 9months of intense lockdown measures during which time instances of domestic abuse soared, Christmas 2020 saw the number of domestic violence incidents nearly doubling nationally, compared to 2019.

It’s often reported that domestic abuse at this time of year is fuelled by money fears, too much alcohol and spending longer periods of time at home – intensely stressful scenarios which many  have endured throughout global pandemic.

But there are NO excuses.


New legislation, greater protection

Domestic violence and domestic abuse are criminal offences. Fact.

The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 became law on 29 April 2021, with one of the key provisions of the Act being to broaden what constitutes controlling and coercive behaviours.

This type of abuse could include verbal, sexual, psychological, financial or emotional abuse taking the form of a pattern of threats, humiliation and/or intimidation – it can include instances of a victim being stopping from socialising, having their social media accounts controlled, being subject to surveillance through apps or being told what to wear.

All forms of domestic abuse are unacceptable but breaking the cycle of abuse is a process that often takes time and can feel impossible.


Seeking help at Christmas

Help and advice is always available and knowing that victims can access support or escape the abuse is critical, particularly at Christmas is critical.

The National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline - 0808 2000 247- is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and further information and support can be found on the Refuge and Women’s Aid websites.


Don’t suffer in silence

Victims of domestic abuse can feel totally isolated and very alone, so just talking to someone can often be the first step towards accessing information and support.

If you feel you may be a victim of domestic abuse and/or violence, or you know someone who is, speak to a family member or friend you trust in a place you feel safe.

If you don’t feel able to do this yet or you’d prefer to speak to someone removed from the situation, please get in touch with me, Victoria Poole, on 01606 48777 for a confidential discussion. I work in the Family Law department here at Susan Howarth & Company - I’m also a Resolution-accredited specialist in Domestic Abuse and I’m here to help.

For more information on Domestic Violence & Abuse, read our Fact Sheet.