Domestic violence: Christmas isn’t fun for everyone

AN Omagh refuge centre had admissions on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year from women who had suffered domestic abuse.

The revelation came in recent days as it emerged that reports of domestic abuse had increased by 5.4 per-cent in the last 12 months, and are now the highest figures ever recorded in the North.

Between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018, there were 1,766 domestic abuse incidents recorded in the Fermanagh and Omagh district, an increase of 105 incidents on last year, with a further 1,716 recorded in Mid Ulster council area.

The police said they respond to an incident of domestic abuse every 17 minutes and the number of reports typically surge during the Christmas period. 

Orla Conway, from Omagh Women’s Aid said her organisation is ready and waiting to offer help.

“Nobody plans to leave home at Christmas, a lot of people try to tough it out and hope for change especially at this time of the year, but they don’t need to,” she said.

“There is always help out there and we are very much open, we had admissions on Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year,” said Orla.

Last year, the highest level of incidents reported across the North was on New Year’s Day when a total of 142 calls for help were received, with a further 84 reports on Christmas Day. 

The figures were released as the PSNI launched their annual domestic abuse Christmas campaign. 

This year’s core message – ‘If you feel like you’re walking on eggshells that’s domestic abuse’ – is aimed at encouraging the reporting of incidents, to let victims know they are not alone and they do not have to suffer in silence.

West Tyrone MLA Michaela Boyle said, “It is not easy for victims to speak out as many live in fear every single day.
“Domestic violence and abuse has a devastating effect on the lives of its victims and their families.

“My message to victims is that you don’t have to suffer alone.”

In 2017/18 there were 31,008 domestic abuse incidents recorded across the North, the highest figures of any 12 month period since the PSNI started recording the data 14 years ago.

Unfortunately, behind every statistic is a victim, and many incidents still go unreported, whether the abuse is physical or emotional.

 There is a 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Violence helpline (tel: 0808 802 1414) available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past. 

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