“You are not alone” is the message from police.
Messages encouraging victims to report abuse over the festive period and directing them to support services will be printed on more than four-and-a-half million tickets issued on routes across the West Midlands. The ticketing campaign, which runs from December 17 until the New Year, also features a strong warning to offenders that they run the risk of spending Christmas behind bars.
Reports of domestic abuse to West Midlands Police over the festive season, which is counted as the period from December 1st to January 4th, have fallen in recent years. However, Public Protection officers fear the actual figure could be higher as some victims feel pressure to put on a brave face over Christmas and New Year.
Detective Inspector Kim Madill from the Public Protection Unit, said: “Domestic abuse has traditionally risen at this time of year due to many factors: arguments over child contact, increased alcohol, family tension and financial pressures.
“Victims may feel pressure to ‘hold it together over Christmas’ but domestic abuse shouldn’t be tolerated at any time let alone over the festive season when people should be celebrating and enjoying themselves. We want sufferers to know that help is only a phone-call away. Police can take swift action to protect them and their family and, through support groups such as Women’s Aid, victims can take positive action to turn their life around.”
Buses and Midland Metro services throughout Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country will issue tickets with campaign messaging.
DI Madill added: “Hundreds of thousands of people use public transport every day. Printing messages and helpline numbers on tickets means we can reach a huge audience; people can also keep them in their pockets and handbags. The passenger reading the ticket may not be a victim of domestic abuse themselves but may know someone who is suffering; the campaign also encourages them to come forward and report it.
“Domestic abuse can be psychological, physical, emotional and sexual and is known to be an under reported crime for all victims, be they women or men in a variety of relationships and also members of ethnic minority communities. We want to raise awareness of the help that is available out there.”
A supporting poster and flyer campaign listing 12 ways domestic abuse sufferers can change their lives over Christmas will be distributed across the region and displayed in pubs, hospitals and community centres.
To talk to a specially trained Public Protection safeguarding officer about domestic abuse call the 101 number but in an emergency always dial 999.