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Victims of domestic abuse in Hertfordshire are being reminded they don't have to suffer in silence over the festive period - help is available and they should speak out against abuse.
The reminder comes as part of Hertfordshire Constabulary's on-going campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse and encourage reporting.
Nationally, police forces see an increase in reports of domestic abuse over the festive period, when the extra pressures of family, money and an increase in alcohol consumption exacerbates domestic abuse incidents.
Messages will be sent out on social media every day over the festive period reminding people of the many forms domestic abuse can take and where they can go to for help. Facebook and Twitter users will also be directed to websites which can assist them by clicking on the link.
DCI Clare Smith, from the Harm Reduction Unit at Hertfordshire Constabulary, said:
"For many people the holiday period over Christmas is a happy time but unfortunately this is not the case for everyone. There will be people who will not be happy and celebrating with presents and having fun but who will be living in fear of abuse from a partner.
I would urge those people to come forward, there is help available. Equally, if you believe you know someone who is the victim of abuse let us know, help is out there.
Domestic abuse rarely involves a one - off incident. More usually it is a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour by one person - (or group) over another. It can often escalate from something seemingly small such as name calling or threats, to incidents of physical or sexual abuse and can begin at any stage in a relationship and sometimes continuing after a relationship has ended.
Victims have several options including assistance from the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline - a charity which provides a free and confidential service to those affected by, or concerned about domestic abuse.
It is staffed by trained volunteers from 10 am to 10 pm Monday to Friday and the call will not show on a telephone bill.
Call: 08 088 088 088."
Alternatively visit the Sunflower website - a one stop shop of information about services and support available to victims, friends and families of victims and professionals. www.hertssunflower.org
You can also call the police on 101 - specially trained officers in one of Hertfordshire Constabulary's Harm Reduction Units are available by calling the 101 number.
Sarah Taylor, Programme Manager for Domestic Abuse, said:
"Our work to raise awareness and identify cases of domestic abuse throughout the year continues and Christmas is no exception. Nationally there is an increase in reports of domestic abuse with additional pressures placed on families and we have support in place to deal with this.
We all know that sadly, domestic abuse happens all year round and can take many forms - it is not just about physical abuse - the abuse can be emotional and financial. Nobody should be a victim - we are here to help."
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said:
"Domestic abuse affects families and relationships from all backgrounds and all ages and it is something I am committed to tackling.
Helping victims can be challenging because the abuse often takes place behind closed doors and for many reasons it is not easy for them to come forward and report the problem. We all have a duty to help, and I would urge people to report any suspicions they have about friends, relatives or colleagues who are suffering at the hands of a family member or partner.
Christmas should be a time of celebration and everyone has a right to enjoy it in safety. Please do not suffer in silence - there is help available. I would urge you to make that call."