The Christmas and New Year holiday break can be a stressful and challenging time for many. Particularly for partners and children living with the threat of intimate partner abuse, domestic violence and alcohol abuse.
Prolonged time together, external pressures, finances, and the increased consumption of alcohol create a higher-risk environment for many people living with domestic abuse during the holiday season.
If you are concerned and anxious about an intimate partner’s verbal, physical or sexual abuse or violence – keep yourself safe this Christmas. Love should not hurt and all abuse and intimate partner violence is unacceptable. Here is a list of suggestions and helpline numbers to keep stored safely on your phone in case of concern or emergency. You are not alone.
“We know what it’s like to live in fear. We can help. Please call us.” – WomensAid.ie
Know the signs of coercive control and abuse
There are many signs and characteristics of abuse;
Isolating you from family and friends, extreme jealousy, rage, preventing you from making decisions for yourself, threatening to harm you or your children, telling you that you are worthless, won’t give you privacy, monitoring, controlling finances, manipulation, locking you into spaces, telling you ‘no one cares.’
Verbal abuse: Insults, threatening, name-calling, shouting, screaming, intimidating, taunting, aggressive and violent communication and coercive control.
Physical abuse: Pushing, shoving, pinning, hitting, slapping, punching, pulling, spitting, throwing, trapping, restraining, stalking, intimidating.
Sexual abuse: Unwanted sexual touch, groping, genital touch, non-consensual sexual acts, or behaviour is sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual violence. Marriage is not an entitlement to sex.
DO NOT SUFFER ALONE.
Stay in touch regularly with those close to you. Plan time away. Talk to a family member, friend, neighbour, therapist or someone you feel safe with and let them know of any concerns you have coming into Christmas and the New Year. Do not be afraid to reach out to anyone anytime, day or night. Helplines are available 24/7.
MAKE A SAFE PLAN.
Make a safety plan in advance, especially if you anticipate intimate partner violence. Have a small bag packed ready, in the car or left at a safe person’s home nearby if you need to leave your home urgently. Save helpline numbers on your phone. Consider keeping a personal safety device on you. Leave a spare house key, car key and phone hidden in an accessible place. Agree on a safeword in case of an emergency that you can text a friend or family member.
Know, explain and share the ‘international hand signal for help’ with a safe family member you can use on a video-call or in a room. This hand gesture is the palm of your hand facing the camera or the person. Then tuck the thumb in, fold your finger’s down and trap your thumb. (see image)
Drop into your local garda station or pharmacy for safety during or after any incidents.
IF IN DOUBT, GET OUT.
Keep yourself and your children safe at all times. If you feel fearful, afraid, or in doubt, get out and away immediately. Take a walk, drop into a neighbour, family member, friend, pharmacy, GP or Garda station nearby. Remember your safety plan. Keep yourself safe this Christmas.
FREEPHONE HELPLINE NUMBERS 24/7
- Women’s Aid -1800 341 900
- Male Domestic Violence – 1800 816 588
- Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 77 888
- Men’s Aid – 01 554 3811
- Samaritans – 116 123
- An Garda Siochana – 999 and 112