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Domestic abuse at Christmas

This week, Paula Gelling, Victim Support’s Independent Domestic Violence Advisor, talks about the added pressure on families at Christmas time.

The TV is full of happy families at Christmas, but the reality can be very different.

For some families, similar to the recent lockdown, the festive season means enforced time together, at times 24 hours a day. In instances where there is domestic abuse in a family, it is not a healthy situation.

The police receive more calls to attend domestic disturbances during December than any other month and it comes in many forms - not just physical violence.

It can involve emotional abuse and psychological abuse, when one person exerts more control over another.

At Christmas time this can be much more so than normal. Simple things like the joy of receiving presents can be turned into emotional pain when one person dictates how and when it happens and is critical at every stage.

Every aspect of Christmas can be turned into upset, from the restricting of who comes to visit, to what TV shows are watched and what food is eaten.   

These are just a few examples of what could be classed as coercive control, which is planned to be included in the new domestic abuse legislation along with more police powers.

In our experience, at Victim Support, we see a rise in people seeking our help after Christmas, perhaps trying to keep things normal, ‘for the sake of the kids’.  Our message is please don’t put a sticking plaster on it. You are not alone, there is help available.

Here at Victim Support we have Independent Domestic and Sexual Violence advisors (IDVA & ISVA’s)  and the team are trained to support those affected by all typed of domestic abuse.

We are open during the working weekdays over Christmas. Please telephone +44 1624 679950 to arrange an appointment. We can also be contacted on

The IOM Women’s Aid who run the Women’s Refuge are also available and their number is +44 1624 677900. They off support by phone including evening and weekends.

If you have friends or family members who are in abusive or controlling relationships, encourage them to seek support and be there for them.

Don’t be judgmental.

On average it takes seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship.  

You are not alone. Please seek support

For more tools and resources on mental wellbeing visit: