‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’. For some of us, this holiday season will be spent with friends and family. Whether it’s going gift shopping, stressing about what to give loved ones or being appreciative and spending quality time, the end of the year often comes with a renewed sense of optimism.
For others, this is the time of year spent with significant others, planning dates, video calls and the yearly winter wonderland trip. This is all amazing; the warmth and love define the holidays. Yet, it is also necessary to recognise that not everything is always as positive. This Christmas can increase domestic abuse cases being reported.
Of all the crimes noted by the police in March of 2021, 18% were domestic abuse related. Still, that figure rose to 19.3% in the following December, according to the Local Government Association. This trend is parallel to previous years. Advertising and the media can cause us to assume that domestic abuse primarily impacts adults.
Nonetheless, Safelives.org reported that young people experience the highest rates of domestic abuse of any age group. For context, Safe Lives defines young people as children between 13 and 17. In addition, the probability of experiencing high-severity abuse for young people is not dissimilar to adults. This can manifest in many different ways. For example, controlling behaviour, online abuse, reading text messages or emails, and sexual and physical abuse.
Let’s face it, it’s not easy to spot if this is happening to those around us, and sometimes it’s even harder to notice it happening to ourselves. However, it is helpful to recognise the potential signs that a friend or family member may exhibit. These may include increasing self-critical behaviour, becoming more isolated, possible eating problems and physical displays of harm such as bruising or scratches. Depending on the individual, signs can manifest in many different ways, but staying aware of domestic abuse can allow us to hopefully notice it more.
Now let’s move on to what’s even harder, finding help. Many different resources are available to help those in domestic abuse situations. Childline has a phone and online chat line to provide support. For emergency situations, call 999. This is not only for those who are victims of domestic abuse, but those worried for those in these situations can reach out for advice also. Furthermore, reaching out is also an option if you are concerned about harming a loved one.
The holiday period is a joy, but it can also be challenging and shine a light on issues that otherwise go unnoticed. While some of us plan our dates and take trips to Winter Wonderland, it is essential to be alert to these potentially dangerous situations - not just at Christmas but all year round.
Call Childline free on 0800 1111 or log in for a 1-2-1 chat with a counsellor (9 AM - Midnight).