For most people, Christmas is a time of joy. A time when families come together to share love and laughter. Sadly, while most families are celebrating Christmas, other lives are being devastated due to domestic and sexual violence in the home.
Many women and their children will endure a Christmas day of violent outbursts, emotional abuse or cruel silence, and be prevented from contact with other family members. For these women, Christmas is a time of fear, pain and loneliness. Often women and children endure this terrible situation because they feel there is no other option.
Women’s Aid is here to ensure women know there are options, including the safe haven of our refuges. We do this through our 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline. Our team of highly trained, experienced staff and volunteers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including Christmas Day. We offer support, advice and practical information to all women and men seeking to escape a life of emotional abuse, violence, rape, financial control and isolation in their own home.
Last year, the Helpline answered 27,923 calls. Sadly there is always a rise in calls for help over the Christmas period. It is expected that this year will be no different. Many women and their children will spend Christmas in one of our refuges across Northern Ireland. This means they will have had to flee their own homes, often having to leave all their possessions behind, because home was not a safe place for them to be.
PSNI statistics for 2014/15 show there were 28,287 domestic abuse incidents; that is 1 domestic abuse incident every 19 minutes of every day. During this year there were 6 murders with a domestic abuse motivation. These statistics are shocking.
The impact of domestic and sexual violence is devastating. Many victims do not report domestic violence due to fear of the perpetrator, because of the intimate nature of the relationship with the perpetrator, or because the abuse has left them with such low self-esteem or confidence, they believe they are to blame. Victims can experience so much trauma that it can take up to thirty-five incidents of verbal threats, coercion and controlling behaviour or physical violence before they reach out for the first time.
When they finally find the courage and strength to make the call, we will be there. Your donation can help us respond to all victims 24 hours a day, 365 days per year through our confidential and safe Helpline service.
Your donation will also help us to:
- Deliver preventative education programmes that help children and young people feel safer in school and at home.
- Ensure those who respond to the needs of women and children (police, courts etc) fully understand the nature and impact of domestic and sexual violence.
- Raise awareness and lobby government to provide vital support, education, protection and justice to ensure women and children can rebuild their lives.
- Educate and inform the public of the devastating impact domestic and sexual violence can have on the lives of victims.
- Promote the work of local Women’s Aid groups providing refuge and outreach support for women and children across Northern Ireland.
You can donate in three ways:
- Send a cheque payable to Women’s Aid Federation NI to the address below
- Donate using your mobile phone. Text WANI01and the amount you want to donate to 70070
You can also leave gifts for the children and young people in our refuges throughout Northern Ireland. Find your local Women’s Aid group.
All donations will be greatly appreciated. Please help us continue our work for those who face a bleak Christmas, suffering violence in their own homes.
We thank you and wish you a Peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year.