5 January 2011, 12:58
Christmas is meant to be full of good memories. However for 323 people their Christmas memories of 2010 will be dominated by fear and heartache.
That's because they called the police this holiday season as they were experiencing domestic abuse.
Every year domestic abuse and sexual violence rises over Christmas. That's why the Safer Portsmouth Partnership ensured that domestic abuse featured in our safer Christmas campaign. We are encouraged that these (mostly) women called for help, but saddened that it happened to so many.
Inspector Chris Parry, Public Protection Unit said: "Domestic abuse comes in many forms, from physical violence to psychological abuse, controlling finances, humiliation, enforced isolation and verbal bullying.
"Tackling these offences is a priority for the police year-round but we invest extra resources during the Christmas and New Year period to deal with the anticipated rise.
"Police in Portsmouth work extremely hard to help all victims of domestic abuse and maintain contact with our partners to ensure they receive the support they need.
"In Portsmouth we use body-worn video cameras to help gather evidence at the scene of domestic incidents and have a positive action policy which seeks to separate the victim and the suspect and help diffuse any tension.
"I'd say to anyone who's suffered any form of domestic abuse that you're not alone; there's a wide range of services free of charge where you can get help by picking up the phone.
"Although rare, in the most serious cases, what starts as domestic abuse can lead to murder. Our aim is to prevent anyone from having to encounter this abuse or be put at any level of risk."
Tonia Earey, Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator said: "Domestic abuse has a significant impact on children and all the family, whether it be emotional, financial, sexual or physical abuse, especially at this time of the year it's really good to know that people had good support when they made that all important call.
"We need to remember that although asking for help can be a difficult step to take this, services are available to support you and your children."
Karina Christensen, Assistant Director of You Trust said: "At YOU, Portsmouth's Refuge we received 20% more referrals than we could accommodate over Christmas, with a significant increase in referrals from social care and a slight increase in referrals for single women and young women aged 16/17.
"It saddens me deeply that were 18 children (10 of which were under 10) who were away from home, living in the Refuge over Christmas this year, however, we remain determined and focused to continue the vital joined up work between the police, council and other agencies to prevent domestic violence and assist those living at the refuge to rebuild their lives."
If you need help -
In an emergency always call 999
If you are safe, but need to report a crime call 0845 045 45 45
For help, advice and support for domestic abuse call the Early Intervention Project on 02392 688472