For most people, Christmas and New Year is a time to spend quality time with family and friends. However, for some, who are living in the shadow of domestic abuse, this may not be the case.
Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner is urging friends and families of victims of domestic abuse to open the door and speak out with a resolution to change their lives for the better.
Open The Door is a Cheshire-wide campaign which aims to encourage victims, friends and families to seek support for domestic abuse. Friends and family members can often spot the signs but are unsure how to broach the subject. Open The Door raises awareness and shows people how to recognise the signs, know what to do and have the confidence to take action.
David Keane said: “For those who experience domestic abuse and who are already living in fear and anxiety, tensions can increase and quickly escalate when families spend more time together over the festive season.
“Family members and close friends can often see when a relationship is not healthy and I would encourage everyone to understand how to spot the signs and have a supportive conversation with the person they are worried about. We know that victims, both men and women, often suffer in silence for the sake of their families so that they don’t spoil Christmas for everyone else. However, as friends and families spend more time together at this time of the year, they will have the opportunity to spot warning signs and help them speak out."
Domestic abuse doesn’t have to stay behind closed doors. Open The Door is there to help people get the help they need and to bring this hidden crime out into the open. Early intervention is key in preventing the devastation suffered by not only the immediate victims but to their children which is why everyone has a responsibility to bring domestic abuse out into the open.
Detective Chief Superintendent Nigel Wenham of the Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit added: "Christmas should be a time for celebration, but this time of year can be one of the hardest for victims of domestic abuse. Nobody should have to endure the pain and suffering of domestic abuse and I would say to all victims that now is the time to be brave, have a fresh start and begin the year by speaking out and putting a stop to it.
“Our officers are here to help but we understand that some people may find it difficult to speak to a police officer which is why we are supporting the Open The Door campaign.”
Domestic abuse, whether it’s emotional, psychological or physical abuse, affects people regardless of gender, social group, class, age, race, religion, disability, sexuality or lifestyle and can begin at any time whether in a new relationship or after many years together.
If you are concerned a family member or friend is a victim of domestic abuse, there are warning signs to look out for which include:
• Suddenly very quiet and nervous
• Not keeping commitments and appointments
• Making excuses not to see you
• Acting nervously
• Worried about what their partner/carer /sibling will think or do
• Acting secretively
• Changing their appearance
Don’t ignore your intuition, if you think something isn’t right, do something about it – have that conversation and find out what you can do to provide support. For more information visit www.openthedoorcheshire.org.uk