For many, spending quality time with family and friends is a key part of the Christmas season. But for some this is not something to look forward to as it means spending more time with those who make their lives miserable.
Domestic abuse can be experienced by anyone. It can occur between family members or those who have been intimate partners. It can happen to any generation and between generations, and can take many forms. In December, incidents of domestic abuse increase, though victims often wait until after the holidays to seek help.
Domestic abuse affects certain groups disproportionately. More women report abuse (1) than men, and this is more likely to be high risk or severe (2). People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to experience domestic abuse than those with no long-standing illness or disability (3). They are also more likely to report abuse from multiple perpetrators: one in five (19%) compared with one in twenty (6%) (4).
During Christmas, the consumption of alcohol can increase the severity and frequency of instances of domestic abuse. It is not the cause of domestic abuse, but can exacerbate the likelihood of a perpetrator committing an offence, as they may become more aggressive or violent.
Domestic abuse can affect the mental health of not only the intended victims but also of those who witness it, including children. Studies indicate that 1 in 3 adult mental health conditions relate directly to adverse childhood experiences (5). It can be a cycle of abuse – social workers and IDVAs (Independent Domestic Violence Advisors) in Sutton report that many of the victims and perpetrators they encounter come from homes where domestic abuse was present. Several studies confirm this correlation (6), though it is not always inevitable.
Domestic abuse is not always obvious but there are signs to be aware of and look out for including:
- A partner (or carer / adult child / other) always accompanying someone, seeming overly protective, or not letting them speak with professionals alone
- Missed appointments
- Changes in mood / behaviour
- Financial difficulties
- Visible physical injuries, or wearing excessive clothing which might be hiding these
- A noticeable lack of contact with friends or family
This list isn’t exhaustive. People may try to hide what is happening to them, or may be in denial that they are experiencing abuse.
If you become aware of domestic abuse, for information and advice, including referral contacts, see www.notaloneinsutton.org.uk. Help stop the cycle of violence.
If you have any questions, would like further information about the changes or would like someone from the CCG to come and talk to your organisation about these changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.