Christmas is for most a joyful and peaceful time of year when families and friends get together to celebrate. However, for victims of domestic abuse, it can be one of the most difficult times of the year.

The Government defines domestic violence as; “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional” between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality”.

Money tensions, additional family commitments, unrealistic expectations and excessive alcohol consumption make Christmas a peak period for domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is still very much a hidden crime with those experiencing abuse keeping it from those closest to them let alone the authorities. On average, victims suffer 35 attacks before the police are called. This makes the following statistics even more harrowing:

• 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

• One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute in the UK.

• In 90% of domestic violence incidents in family households children were in the same or the next room.

• On average 2 women a week are killed by a current or former partner.

These statistics do not include emotional abuse which often has even more devastating and long term effects than physical violence.

It is easy as a victim of domestic violence to feel helpless and alone especially at Christmas but it is important to realise that there is help out there:

• You can access support and advice in confidence by contacting Women’s Aid on 0800 2000 24 or visit www.womensaid.co.uk They offer a free 24 hour helpline and online guide “The Survivors Handbook”. They can provide you with assistance in leaving your home if necessary and entering safe refuge accommodation. They can also provide outreach support.

• You can contact the police. Currently there is no single offence of domestic abuse. Some forms of domestic abuse are crimes, for example assault, sexual assault, false imprisonment or harassment. Most police forces have designated domestic abuse officers who are specially trained to deal sensitively with domestic abuse offences.

• You can get legal aid to seek legal advice. You can in certain circumstances apply to the Family Court for a Non Molestation Order (commonly referred to as injunctions). Typically a Non Molestation Order will prevent the other party from intimidating, pestering or harassing you and will state that the perpetrator cannot enter or attempt to enter your home or come within 100 metres of it. Breach of the Order is a criminal offence punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment or a fine or both.

At David Gray Solicitors we have a specialist DV team who have a wealth of experience in dealing with domestic abuse cases. We operate an emergency injunction rota which means that we have a member of our team available every day to provide advice, assistance and representation.

For help and advice in confidence call us now on 0191 2329547 or Chat Live on our website.