Domestic violence at Christmas

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, says:


Women and children staying at a refuge during Christmas.“Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Christmas is meant to be a time of joy, a time of generosity, a time of caring. But for too many women and children, the 25th December will be yet another day of living with fear, intimidation and violence.

“Some police forces see increases in reports of domestic violence incidents at Christmas. This may be because many police forces run high profile awareness campaigns around Christmas time. But the truth is that domestic violence takes place all year round. It affects one woman in four at some point in her life. And it kills two women every week. The police should be encouraging women to reach out for support every day of the year, not just at Christmas.

“At Refuge, we actually receive fewer visits to our website,, and fewer calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership with Women’s Aid) around Christmas than we do at other times of the year. It can be very difficult for a woman experiencing domestic violence to access support during the festive period – a period when her abusive partner may be spending more time at home and monitoring her behaviour more closely than ever.

“Domestic violence is an abuse of power – it is the repeated, habitual use of violence and intimidation to control another person.  We cannot blame domestic violence on Christmas, alcohol, drugs, unemployment, stress, money worries or ill health. These are just excuses for an abuser’s behaviour.

“If you are experiencing domestic violence, Refuge is here to support you – every day of the year. No woman should feel isolated and alone. Visit to find out more.”