According to The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF), a charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children and young people, almost 16,000 children in the UK could have beenexposed to domestic abuse over Christmas.
It is estimated that 3.2 percent of under 11-year-olds and 2.5 per cent of 11 to 17-year-olds are exposed to domestic violence, which EIF said equated to 15,948 over the two-week festive period, which would be a rise from 15,006 the previous Christmas.
EDAN Lincs Domestic Abuse Service (EDAN Lincs) is a county-wide domestic abuse charity commissioned by Lincolnshire County Council to provide safe temporary accommodation, advice and support to any man or woman - with or without children - experiencing domestic abuse.
The charity has 21 secure units across Lincolnshire which can cater for anyone fleeing a dangerous home and has now been running for more than 20 years.
Anna Davis, fundraising and communication coordinator for EDAN Lincs, said: “We work with agencies across the country to help people to flee beyond Lincolnshire if they need to.
“Sadly, we’ve also had to remove people from one of our units and move them to another safe place at the last minute because the perpetrator has tracked them down.”
Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time for all the family, but Anna said: “For many people, it’s especially hard at Christmas because domestic abuse often escalates at Christmas and people want to have a happy time with their family, but now they are constantly reminded of the trauma they’ve been through.”
In May last year, EDAN Lincs introduced a new initiative to tackle waiting lists and provide specialist, targeted, short term intervention to low risk victims of domestic abuse as during the pandemic, the charity received more referrals and learnt to adapt to the changes in accordance with government guidelines of social distancing with work and care.
The new initiative includes SAFE Course - Safety, Awareness, Freedom and Empowerment - which explores the dynamics of abuse, helps victims to better understand their experiences, and empowers them to make positive, healthy and safe choices for their future.
There have been many changes made to the law in recent years to recognise and protect those at risk from abuse.
Children who have witnessed domestic abuse are now viewed as victims in their own right, as well as coercive control now being listed as a form of abuse under Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 and new Stalking Prevention Orders introduced in January 2020.
The charity is hoping to help others spot the signs of abuse sooner, and to reach out to them the first time an incident happens:
“We want people to come to us for help before they have to run,” Anna said. “If they think to themselves ‘should they make me feel this way?’ or ‘should they be treating me this way?’, the answer is no!
“Some people will think that it was their fault, and that they deserve it, and it’s absolutely not true.
“On average it takes a woman seven attempts to leave an abusive situation for a variety of reasons - she doesn’t know where else to go, doesn’t know her rights concerning her house or she’s told it will “never happen again”.
If anyone out there has been feeling this way, call us immediately.”
Anna said that it’s also important for people to remember that violence and abuse doesn’t just happen to women, as pre-pandemic figures indicate that one in four women has been a victim of domestic abuse, and one in six men.
“Abuse isn’t just violence either,” she said, “it can be coercive behaviour, controlling your behaviour, stalking, belittling you or financial control.”
EDAN Lincs is a non-profit organisation and relies on grants, donations and sponsorship in order to keep their vital services running.
The chairman of North Kesteven District Council took part in the fastest zip line in the world, with speeds of more than 100mph to raise money for EDAN Lincs, her chosen charity.
Councillor Susannah Barker-Milan rode the Velocity 2 at Penrhyn Slate Quarry near Bethesda in North Wales - the fastest line in the world but also the longest in Europe.
“Obviously this is both terrifying and a challenge but I feel that EDAN Lincs is well worth it,” said Susannah.
You can make a donation by visiting edanlincs.org.uk/fund-raising/donations-legacies/ and clicking on the ‘Donate’ button.
EDAN Lincs can be contacted for advice by calling 01522 510041 from Monday to Friday between 9am to 5pm.
Outside of these hours, please call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline – which is a freephone number available 24 hours a day - on 0808 2000 247.
If you feel your life, or someone else’s, is in danger, please call 999.
Men’s Advice Line is available from 0808 801 0327 and the Broken Rainbow Helpline for the LGBTQ community is available at 0300 999 5428.
Lincolnshire solicitors Sills & Betteridge offer a 24 hour service to provide victims of domestic abuse with advice in the event of an emergency. The number to call or text is 07557 850212.
Ringrose Law also offer this service, where you can call or text 07739 748675.
If you need to call the police but making a sound would put you or someone else in danger, when you call 999 from a mobile and the BT operator cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, your call will be transferred to the Silent Solution system - a police system used to filter out large numbers of accidental 999 calls. It also exists to help people who are unable to speak, but who genuinely need police assistance.
You will hear an automated police message, which lasts for 20 seconds and begins with ‘you are through to the police’. It will ask you to press 55 to be put through to police call management. The BT operator will remain on the line and listen. If you press 55, they will be notified and transfer the call to the police.