Police urge relatives and friends to look for signs of abuse

Detective Superintendent Barry Byford said looking for the signs of domestic abuse could make a diff

Detective Superintendent Barry Byford said looking for the signs of domestic abuse could make a difference in ensuring a safer Christmas for everyone Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Relatives and friends of domestic abuse victims are being urged to speak up and help prevent people from suffering in silence during a time when domestic violence is often at its worst.

Money tensions and unrealistic expectations, combined with excess alcohol and close confinement are among factors likely to put more pressure on relationships, according to Suffolk police, which last year responded to more than 50 incidents of domestic abuse between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

Christmas Eve was the worst day, overwhelmingly, with half of all 26 cases of violence resulting in injury.

Over the following two days, police received another 21 reports of violence with or without injury, and three reports of stalking and harassment.

Although domestic abuse can increase over the Christmas period, figures show offences take place every day and affect people of any age, gender, race or sexuality.

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The age of victims ranged from 16 to 83 at Christmas and nearly half were male (47%), while men were more than twice as likely to be the abuser (33 compared to 14 women).

Almost 40% of offences were linked to a custody record – twice the average number of arrests made for reported domestic abuse crimes in the last financial year.

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Between December 23, 2017 and January 2, 2018, Suffolk police handled 372 domestic abuse investigations – above average for an 11-day period, using year-to-date volumes, which revealed August to be the worst month, with 1,291 investigations compared to 939 for the whole of December.

Detective Superintendent Barry Byford said: “Although domestic abuse can increase slightly at this time of the year, no one need suffer in silence.

“I understand that taking that first step and telling somebody what is happening can often be very difficult, but police will be able to offer advice and support to help domestic abuse victims. We also work closely with partner agencies as we understand that people don’t always want to approach police.

“As well as asking victims to come forward themselves, I would also urge relatives and friends to look out for the signs of domestic abuse and report it if they believe someone they know is suffering. It really could make a difference in ensuring a safer Christmas for everyone.”

•What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse can take many forms.

It can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional.

It is domestic abuse if your partner or a family member threatens or intimidates you, is violent towards you, makes you fear for your physical safety, humiliates you or puts you down by calling you names or playing mind games, isolates you by stopping you from seeing your family and friends, is controlling of where you go, what you do, how you dress, or otherwise deprives you of your independence.

For more information about domestic abuse and violence, visit the Suffolk police website

To report domestic abuse or seek advice, call Lighthouse Women’s Aid on 01473 745111 or police on 101. If you feel in immediate danger as a result of domestic abuse, dial 999 straight away and wait in a safe place for the police to arrive.

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