Stay Safe This Winter

13 December 2010, 06:04 | Updated: 13 December 2010, 07:08

An ex-offender and a victim of domestic abuse are sharing their experiences as part of Kent Police's Stay Safe this winter campaign.

The campaign focuses on domestic abuse and reaches out to young people aged between 18 and 22 years of age. People in this group have the highest risk of becoming a victim of domestic abuse and are among the highest risk in terms of offending frequency.

Superintendent Maria Shepherd, head of Kent Police's Public Protection Unit, says: "Domestic abuse is a serious issue and there is never an excuse for abusing your partner. We are calling time on domestic abuse this Christmas as it ruins it for everyone.

"Extra socialising during the festive season, financial pressures and spending long periods of time with family can aggravate violent relationships. We urge victims to call us or contact national organisations for support and advice.

"Kent Police has eight specialist domestic abuse units across Kent to support victims of domestic abuse. We work closely other agencies and a new multi agency strategy has been agreed to provide practical help, support and advice to domestic abuse victims across Kent and Medway to increase the safety of victims and their families."

"Our latest statistics show that younger people are now the most likely to become domestic abuse victims or repeat offenders. We encourage victims to continue coming forward as domestic abuse is under-reported. We view the increase in reported incidents as showing that people have greater confidence in contacting us.

Supt Shepherd adds: "Anyone abusing their partner needs to seek help otherwise they could find themselves spending Christmas with us."

David from Kent, recently took part in the Community Domestic Abuse Programme (CDAP) which helps reform men who abuse their partners.

Case study
David says: "Xmas is a stressful time, as families are not often together so the chemistry causes many strains and flash points. Typically the TV and DVD are stress points, as a controlling person will try and take over the viewing. Alcohol is a problem and can lead to abuse. My own flash points were if I spent most of the morning preparing and cooking Xmas dinner and then find the family unwilling to help clear the table and wash up.

"If I behaved wrongly, my emotions would be anger which I would try and keep a lid on. CDAP has helped me enormously. It's given me a mental toolbox full of tools to use and help. For example, PST (Positive self talk) and PAC (ParentAdultChild) techniques so we talk to each other as adults. It has taught me not to be controlling and not to feel jealous emotions.

"To cope with events such as Christmas, I use positive self talk and non-abusive time out - going for a ten-minute walk to chill. The skills I've learnt include understanding women's fear and anger, communication and listening. Also, not to be judgemental."

David adds: "I would recommend anyone with abusive issues to attend the CDAP course. It helped me."

Hear David's story

Case Study 2
Clare from Kent suffered emotional and verbal domestic abuse for many years. Her partner would tell her she was useless and worthless and no man would ever want her. He often made her leave the house to wander the streets in the early hours of the morning. She said: "I used to dread the sound of the key in the lock when he was home from work of an evening. I did think about suicide. I didn't do anything but I did think about it just to get a release from everything. I just wanted to run away, run away from everything and everyone."

Hear Clare's story

There were 21,332 domestic abuse incidents reported to Kent Police between April 2009 and March 2010. This is an increase of 622 incidents, compared to the same period the previous year. These include threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (including psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are intimate partners or family members. These figures also include more rarely reported incidents of forced marriage, stalking and honour-based violence.

The Home Office has estimated that the total cost to Kent and Medway services in dealing with the effects of domestic abuse and sexual assault is around £317million a year.

Contact numbers
In an emergency or if your life is in danger, please call 999.

The National Domestic Violence helpline is 0808 2000247. The Male Advice Line, specifically for men affected by domestic abuse, is 0808 801 0327. Respect, which gives advice and help to offenders, as well as families and professionals, is 0845 122 8609. The Karma Nirvana helpline number, for victims of honour violence and forced marriage, is 0800 5 999 247.