Victims of seasonal abuse ‘are not alone’

York Press: . .

A NEW campaign has been launched to help support victims of sexual and domestic abuse over the festive period.

Sarah Hill, director of IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Service), said domestic abuse increased during December and again in January, often as a result of financial pressures, the stress of Christmas, or increased alcohol and drug misuse.

She said Christmas for some people was a time for misery with victims living in fear.

“It is crucial that victims know they are not alone, that there is help and people don’t have to suffer in silence.”

She said children in the household were often also the forgotten victims.

Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson, North Yorkshire Police’s lead officer for protecting vulnerable people, said victims would receive a sensitive and sympathetic response.

“The first step in picking up the phone or making contact can often seem the hardest to do,” she said. “We will work with you to make you feel safe and give you that encouragement to seek justice and ensure those responsible are identified and dealt with.”

In Hambleton, posters and leaflets are being distributed bearing the words “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas – not an abusive one” and “It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but for some it isn’t”.

Last month, North Yorkshire Police’s £250,000 Sexual Assault Referral Centre, which helps victims, with their options including dealing with police or other organisations, announced it had dealt with 22 people since it opened in May.

Det Supt Pearson said: “I am anxious to prevent escalation in offending to the most serious level when the trauma inflicted is at its most serious.

“In a number of cases of reported rape this year the victim identified a link to the offender prior to the rape occurring, either current partner, previous partner or an acquaintance.

“It is important that at times of increased relationship tensions that warning signs and behaviour that would be indicative of impending violence are not ignored, and I would encourage early reporting to the police of threats and intimidating behaviour, stalking and harassment.”

Phone IDAS on 03000 110 110 for advice and support to those suffering from domestic abuse.

Alternatively phone North Yorkshire Police on 101, or in an emergency phone 999.


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