Page last updated at 06:44 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Christmas anti-abuse drive starts

Domestic abuse (model)
Last December, the domestic abuse helpline took 2,152 calls

A campaign highlighting the plight of domestic abuse victims at Christmas is getting under way.

Last year, almost 70 people a day called the Wales Domestic Abuse helpline in December.

This year, the campaign wants to raise awareness of "early warning signs" of an abusive relationship.

Social Justice Minister Brian Gibbons said: "It is vital that people understand that any form of domestic abuse is a crime."

The minister is launching the 2009 publicity drive in a visit to Welsh Women's Aid.

The charity says it helps house around 100 children in emergency refuge accommodation at Christmas, fleeing from violence and abuse from a family member.

It is also responsible for running the domestic abuse line, which offers around-the-clock confidential advice and practical help.

Already in 2009, the helpline has dealt with 22,285 calls - an increase of 176% since 2004.

In December alone last year, the helpline managed 2,152 calls, an average of over 69 calls each day from people suffering from domestic abuse.

Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline:
Domestice abuse victim (model)
"At 12:45pm I took a call from a distressed and upset woman who said she wanted to leave her abusive partner. The woman said that she wanted to go to refuge as soon as possible, so I explained how the refuge referral process worked.

"The caller had three children, two boys aged 2 and 5 and a girl of 7. The woman explained that she had mobility issues and has difficulty in using stairs.

"I identified a number of available refuge spaces and discussed the options with the caller.

"I found a suitable space for the caller, but it was quite a distance for her to travel and she did not have transport. I therefore arranged transport for her with the local Women's Aid Group.

"The woman and her children arrived safely at the refuge within the hour."

"The Wales Domestic Abuse helpline staff provide an invaluable service, especially during December when the stresses and strains of Christmas sadly result in a significant rise in the number of people suffering from domestic abuse," said Dr Gibbons.

"Although emotional and psychological abuse does not leave bruised skin and broken bones, the effects of such mistreatment can be just as damaging.

"I therefore urge people in abusive relationships to call the helpline to receive advice and support. The helpline staff are there to listen 24 hours a day, all you need to do is talk."

The launch of the Christmas campaign comes just a day after Wales marked International Day to End Violence Against Women.

The Mid and West Wales assembly member Joyce Watson used the day to call on the Welsh public to wear white ribbons to show their commitment to stamping out domestic violence.

"I am asking men and women to stand up together to say a clear 'no'," she said.

"It is unacceptable that 15 women were killed in Wales in the last year alone [through domestic violence]."

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