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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 11:35 GMT
Unmasking seasonal abuse surge
Poster campaign
Posters aim to shape public attitudes
A domestic violence awareness campaign has got under way in time for Christmas when police statistics show a rise in incidents.

Launched by Dyfed-Powys Police - in conjunction with women's aid organisations - it aims to offer help to the victims and continue to shape public attitudes.

Points of contact
Welsh Women's Aid 01267 234725
National Domestic Violence Helpline 08457 0234687
Dyfed-Powys Police HQ 01267 222020
Powys police division 01686 625704
Ceredigion police division 01970 612791
Carmarthenshire police division 01267 232000
Pembrokeshire police division 01437 763355
"We are very much aware that the Christmas period is a tense time for families, and we do witness an increase in domestic violence around this time of year", said Detective Inspector Aled Jones.

"The awareness campaign will be supported by the distribution of posters which make it clear that domestic abuse can affect all members of households including women, men, the elderly and children."

Last year, 3,000 cases of domestic abuse were reported within the Dyfed-Powys Police area. In 70% of those crimes, an arrest was made.

Acknowledging that countless incidents still go unreported because of fear and guilt felt by the victims, officers are encouraging victims to ask for help - well into the New Year.

"The most difficult time is after Christmas, when children have returned to school and cracks can start to reappear in a relationship," said Jane Shaw, Chair of Carmarthenshire Domestic Abuse Forum.

Abuse victim 'Annie'
'Annie' said abuse made her feel like a non-entity

"It's such a hard thing to talk about. Victims can feel ashamed, that somehow it is their fault. They may be unaware that help is available."

Home Office figures show that of incidents reported, victims were beaten on average 30 times before seeking help.

It is a statistic that makes Annie - not her real name - wince.

A survivor of domestic abuse, she spoke at the launch of the final "horrendous" years of her 17-year marriage.

"I don't remember how it all began," she recalled.

"It was an insidious creep of control, and he used physical and mental violence to keep me in shape, as he used to say.

"My doctor put me in touch with Women's Aid, who helped me to become a person again, instead of the creature, the non-entity I had become".

"My advice to victims is to get out of it. There is plenty of help to sort you out. You don't have to suffer."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News Online's Carwyn Jones
"The facts and figures relating to domestic abuse makes for grim reading."
See also:

04 Jul 01 | Health
'Doctors helped me survive abuse'
06 Mar 01 | World
One in five women assaulted
22 Feb 01 | Health
Summer 'sees peak in violence'
13 Feb 01 | Scotland
Calls to abuse helpline soar
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