The Crime Matters column with Supt Paula Booth

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Imagine waking up on Christmas morning with a swollen black eye, bruising and scratch marks around your neck and a damaged wrist that has left you struggling to hold your tooth brush.

You go downstairs and all you see is devastation.

The collection of lovingly-wrapped gifts are scattered around the living room, the Christmas tree is bent over and decorated with only a few remaining baubles, and there are shards of glass, broken crockery and food all over the carpet and furniture.

Then you go into the kitchen where your partner cheerfully says to you ‘Happy Christmas!’ in a tone of voice that masks what actually happened last night.

Make no mistake, variations of this scenario are being played out in your community all year round.

It just so happens that the pressures and stresses of Christmas tend to put extra strain on already abusive relationships.

Take a look around and think about the people who could be suffering in silence.

Could it be the neighbours down the road who seem friendly enough but tend to keep to themselves?

Why does she always avoid eye contact and why is she wearing too much make-up on her face?

Is it the unusually quiet or meek colleague at work who doesn’t seem to have any friends other than their partner?

They never seem to have any money of their own and always have an excuse to get out of evening staff events.

Is it someone in your own family who is deeply depressed and drinking heavily? What are they escaping from?

Could they be in an abusive relationship?

Are they the abuser?

Lastly, is it you when you look in the mirror? Are you still gathering your strength to break-away from the hurt and seek help?

It is this enhanced level of awareness of harmful issues such as domestic abuse that the NO HOME HERE campaign aims to create.

We know that the victims of domestic abuse are often too afraid, too traumatised and too ashamed to report it to the police. They often see the failed relationship as a personal failure.

Therefore we are urging local people to actively look-out for the signs of domestic abuse and report their concerns as a matter of priority.

This can be done directly to the police on 101 or via the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (also known as “Claire’s Law”).

This is available from the North Yorkshire Police website: www.northyorkshire.police.uk – just click “What we do”, “Tackling crime” and then “Crimes against the person”.

If victims do not want to involve the police, they can still seek confidential professional help and support from IDAS, the Independent Domestic Abuse Service that has offices across North Yorkshire.

Their 24 hour helpline is 03000 110 110 or visit the website for essential help and advice: www.idas.org.uk

Victims can also receive information and support from Supporting Victims, a North Yorkshire–based service put in place by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Call 01609 643100 to access the necessary level of support that’s right for you or visit www.supportingvictims.org

Remember, there is NO HOME HERE for domestic abuse – you can make it stop!