The hidden side of family festivities

One of the new domestic violence campaign posters.
One of the new domestic violence campaign posters.

A major crackdown on domestic violence has been launched in Scarborough in anticipation of a major surge in harrowing assaults this Christmas.

Figures obtained by the Scarborough News reveal that last December there were 36 arrests in connection with domestic violence in the town and 180 across North Yorkshire.

And this year it is set to rise as the country gears up for a triple dip recession and financial burdens grow increasingly heavy.

The new campaign, spearheaded by a number of agencies across the county including police and Scarborough Council’s safer communities team, will see posters displayed in public buildings across the borough. The Christmas-themed flyers help define domestic abuse and publicise special helpline numbers for those affected.

Angela Hartley, domestic abuse co-ordinator for Scarborough, said: “Around one quarter of all women and one sixth of all men encounter some form of domestic abuse within their lives and only half of these incidents are ever reported to the police.

“Domestic abuse increases during December and January, partly due to financial pressures, stress of Christmas and excessive alcohol consumption and drug abuse. Often alcohol is used as an excuse for violent and abusive behaviour by both victims and offenders. Violence is a chosen and deliberate behaviour - drinking alcohol does not cause violence, but is a contributory factor with some.

“Over the last few years we have seen incidents emerging from families who prior to the economic downturn would have gone their separate ways.

“However, because of falling house prices, the difficulties in obtaining mortgages and both or one of the parties losing employment, it has meant couples and families are forced to live together.”

Domestic abuse is defined as any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse – psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional – between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.

In an emergency people who have suffered domestic abuse should always call 999.

Other contacts include the National Domestic Violence Helpline and the local Domestic Abuse Services on 01723 365609.