Most of us will have an enjoyable time at Christmas, but for domestic abuse sufferers it can be a time when their situation becomes even worse.
The West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership (WLCSP) is sending a message to victims that help is available for anyone experiencing domestic abuse during the festive period.
If a West Lancashire resident, is suffering from domestic abuse, there are two local options.
Funded by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lancashire Victim Services offers emotional support, information and practical help to victims and witnesses in West Lancashire as well as across the county.
Anyone who contacts Lancashire Victim Services can speak to an Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) who will work with them to find the best way forward. IDVAs are specially trained to provide non-judgemental emotional support as well as practical help with issues including personal safety, housing and benefits.
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “Domestic abuse is unacceptable. We know that over 90% of incidents are witnessed by children so whatever we can do to encourage and support people to take that first step and get help has to be a good thing.
“Supporting vulnerable people and victims is a key part of my police and crime plan and I would urge anyone affected by domestic violence to contact Lancashire Victim Services. They provide specialist support for anyone affected by domestic abuse which is available now and it is completely confidential.”
Alternatively, the Liberty Centre runs support and the West Lancashire Women’s Refuge and can be contacted on their free confidential 24 hour helpline number 0808 100 3062. Another contact number is 01695 50600. Their website is www.thelibertycentre.org.uk. They may be able to assist in the provision of temporary supported accommodation.
Anyone who is in immediate danger should dial 999 and ask for the emergency services.
Anyone who is forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused. Research has shown that abuse can happen at any stage of a relationship and is very rarely a ‘one-off’. One in four women will suffer from domestic abuse at some stage in their lives.
In 50% of domestic violence cases, the children can get hurt too, either by being subjected to violence themselves or witnessing it.
West Lancashire Borough Council is accredited as a White Ribbon Organisation, as part of a global movement to put a stop to male violence against women and girls. The Council’s website www.westlancs.gov.uk/domesticviolence has some more details about services available to people suffering domestic violence.. This includes information about a campaign which encourages people who have some awareness that a friend, relative or colleague is suffering from domestic violence, to get some support, advice or assistance.
Councillor Kevin Wright, West Lancashire Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Health and Community Safety, said: “It is important to stress that while more than 80 per cent of victims in domestic violence cases are women, men are also the victims of domestic abuse.
“If you are reading this and think you are a victim of domestic abuse, or you think someone else may be a victim, please talk to someone you trust. Or you can call the police, or the Liberty Centre or a national helpline.”
West Lancashire police inspector Adrian Jolly said: “We cannot allow victims of domestic abuse to suffer. We will act to bring perpetrators to justice whenever we can and will work with our partner agencies to support victims to leave abusive relationships.”
The Liberty Centre has a free confidential 24 hour helpline number 0808 100 3062 which is open to callers over the Christmas period. The centre’s confidential counselling and legal advice services for victims will open every day except the bank holidays. A full service will be provided throughout the festive period at The West Lancashire Women’s Refuge which offers short term emergency accommodation.
Gwen Bleasdale, chief executive of the Liberty Centre, said: “Domestic Violence does not stop because it is Christmas. For too many women and children, this will be a time of living with intimidation, fear and violence. The Christmas period, which is meant to be a time of happiness and joy, is often the most difficult time for them.”
The Broken Rainbow national helpline numbers for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are 0800 999 5428, and 0300 999 5428. The police can be contacted on their non-emergency number 101 and specify your location, or in an emergency ring 999.
David Tilleray, West Lancashire Community Safety Partnership chairman, added: “Domestic abuse is a crime. We want victims to know they are not alone and if they approach those services that can help them, their complaints will be handled with care by people sympathetic to what they are going through. We would urge members of the community to report any problems with domestic violence they are aware of.”