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Every year nearly 2 million people in the UK suffer from some form of domestic abuse. 1.3 million female victims (8.2% of the population) and 600,000 male victims (4% of the population). Throughout the UK, 130,000 children live in homes with high-risk domestic abuse. Our message is simple; we want this to stop.

Domestic abuse cases rise significantly over the Christmas holidays and this year we’re raising awareness through our ‘Cheer Not Fear’ campaign, working with Live Fear Free – the All Wales Domestic & Sexual Abuse Helpline who provide help and advice about domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Starting with “light up” vigils taking place all over North Wales on White Ribbon Day (25th November), we will then be using the “16 Days of Activism Against Domestic Abuse” international campaign to end violence against women to raise awareness of all types of domestic abuse. We will be using our social media channels and the hashtag #CheerNotFear throughout this time to educate people about different forms of domestic abuse, signs to look out for in both victims and perpetrators, who can help and how to report cases to us.

On 25th November, three “light up” vigils will be held in Bangor, Rhyl and Wrexham in honour of White Ribbon Day and in memory of Sarah Everard, who was kidnapped and murdered whilst walking home in South London in March this year. We are asking any members of the public to attend, wearing white ribbons and use the lights on their mobile phones or torches to show their support to end violence against women and domestic abuse, for good. The ceremonies will all take place at 7pm at Pontio in Bangor University, Rhyl Events Arena and Queens Square, Wrexham and are expected to last for 30-60 minutes. Everyone is welcome.

PC Mike Taggart is a Strategic Domestic Abuse Officer in North Wales Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit; a dedicated team that deal specifically with things such as domestic abuse, child protection, child sexual exploitation, honour-based abuse, modern day slavery and stalking or harassment – to name just a few. He said “Domestic Abuse happens any time of year, but Christmas can bring other factors to the forefront, which can contribute to further perpetration, such as financial stress and alcohol consumption. Remember this is not the cause of domestic abuse and being told by a perpetrator, things such as “the alcohol made me do it” is in no way mitigation. Abuse of any kind, at any time is not acceptable and is not right. If this is something you’ve experienced or you know someone who has, please make contact with us at North Wales Police, or the Live Fear Free helpline.”

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is the abuse of one partner within an intimate or family relationship. It involves repeated, random or habitual use of intimidation to control or frighten a partner or family member. Domestic abuse can be physical, psychological, financial, emotional or sexual. Anyone who is being forced to change their behaviour because of fear of their partner or family member’s reaction is being abused.

The most ‘obvious’ form of domestic violence is physical abuse, which is easier to spot. It doesn’t have to have caused a major injury or require medical treatment. Physical abuse can be through pushing, grabbing, shaking, burning, punching, or biting. In extreme cases physical domestic abuse can result in serious injury or even death.

However, there are other forms which can be more subtle. Emotional (and psychological) abuse is a form of attack on a victim’s personality. It can be anything from name calling, gaslighting or blaming the victim for the abuse to controlling their every move, threats and intimidation. Emotional abuse can sometimes be just as harmful as physical abuse.

Approximately 90% of rape victims know the perpetrator before the offence happens. Sexual abuse such as rape, sexual assault or sexual exploitation are commonly used by domestic violence perpetrators as a way of controlling and abusing their partners. Sexual abuse is any form of sexual activity (involving physical contact, words, or photographs) that takes place without the other person’s full and informed consent.

Economic (and financial) abuse involves controlling a person’s ability to acquire, use and maintain their own money and resources. This can be anything from preventing a victim from earning or accessing their own money, banning them from going to work to spending or taking a victim’s money without consent or building up debts in their name. Economic abuse can also have an impact on victims after separation which can lead to some victims staying with an abuser to avoid it happening.

Signs to Look Out For

As part of our ‘Cheer Not Fear’ campaign, we are encouraging people to look out for signs of domestic abuse among their friends and family. If you’re worried about a loved one, it’s important to know what to look out for. Here are some common signs of domestic abuse to look out for.

Victims of domestic abuse may show symptoms of:

Physical injury
Excuses for recurrent injuries
Anxiety or depression
Being absent from social occasions or work
Changes in personality (such as being noticeably nervous)
Low self-esteem
No independent communication (always communicating through, or when with their abuser)
Increased use of drugs or alcohol
Financial troubles
Damaged property
Of course, every case is different, and these signs & symptoms don’t always fit. However, there are some signs that usually point to a domestic abuser:

Controlling behaviour
Forcing their partner into a sexual act
Humiliating the victim
Constant shouting
Threats or use of violence
Damaging property or personal items
Limiting the victim’s contact with others (such as friends, family or colleagues)
Constantly checking up on the victim
Accusing the victim of committing the abuse or turning the blame around on them

Who Can Help?

We are working with Live Fear Free; the All Wales Domestic & Sexual Abuse Helpline, aided by the Welsh Government. Live Fear Free is a 24/7 Helpline which provides support to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence, concerned friends and family and professionals looking for information and signposting. They can offer free help and advice to:

Anyone experiencing domestic abuse
Anyone who knows someone who needs help. For example, a friend, family member or colleague
Practitioners seeking professional advice
All conversations with Live Fear Free are confidential and are taken by staff who are highly experienced and fully trained. For more information about Live Fear Free and their contact details, head over to their website > Live Fear Free helpline | GOV.WALES

How to Report

If you are a victim of domestic abuse where a crime has taken place, you can contact us through our webchat facility on our website > Home | North Wales Police or via 101 if it’s a non-urgent matter.

In an emergency, always dial 999. This number is a 24 hour service and you should only use it in situations where there is: danger to life, use, or immediate threat of use, of violence. If you wish to speak to someone outside of the police for general advice, please contact Live Fear Free on 080880 10 800.

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