Each year the Christmas period brings with it an increase in police callouts to incidents of domestic abuse. A number of factors can contribute to this rise; including financial pressures and an increase in alcohol consumption. If you are in a relationship that you think may be abusive it is useful to know what you can do to maintain your safety. At the LGBT foundation we have put together some safety advice and tips to help mitigate the risks of domestic abuse occurring over the festive period, and to prepare you to respond effectively should an incident of domestic abuse occur.
1. Identify the risk concerns – Clearly identify the risks faced, so there is no confusion about what the source of danger is.
2. Identify triggers – Draw on previous incidents to identify triggers to conflict escalation. Identifying the specific triggers that have caused conflict in the past can help to avoid a recurrence of similar situations over the festive period.
3. Exercise caution when using Alcohol/drugs – If you are going to use alcohol or drugs, ensure you do it in a safe place with people who understand the risk of violence and who are committed to your safety.
4. Know and practice your escape route – If you think there is the possibility that a domestic abuse incident may occur, it is important to know your way out of the situation and if possible where you can go to return to a place of safety.
5. Involve suitable others to provide support – This could be a neighbour, a member of your family or a trusted friend. Ensure that somebody is aware that you have concerns for your own/your family’s safety/wellbeing over the festive period.
6. Agree a safety word – come up with a word that you can safely say/text to those within your support network who have agreed to provide assistance should you need it. This should be a word or phrase that you can say to another without arousing the suspicions of the abuse perpetrator.
7. Pack an emergency bag – If you are worried that you may have to make a quick getaway it is important to make sure you have some of the essentials you may need to get by for a short period of time. Pack an emergency bag to keep somewhere private and quickly accessible. Makes sure to pack spare clothes, personal documents, small items of sentimental value as well as anything that is essential for your daily life such as prescription medications.
8. Be aware of the 999 silent solution – You may find yourself in a situation where it is necessary to call the police for assistance, however it may not always be safe for you to speak openly on the phone. If making a sound would put you or somebody else in danger and the BT operator cannot decide if an emergency service is needed, your call will be transferred to the silent solution. You will hear an automated message which will last around 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.
9. Register to text the emergency services – If you cannot make voice calls you can now contact the 999 emergency services by text message. This service was specifically developed for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech, but it is also proving effective for those suffering from domestic abuse who cannot openly make voice calls to the emergency services. You will only be able to use this service if you have registered for emergency SMS first, so don’t wait for an emergency to happen. Text ‘register’ to 999 now, you will get a reply, then follow the instructions you are sent.
10. Contact helplines for advice – There are numerous helplines you can call for advice if you think you are suffering from domestic abuse. Some of these helplines can be found below. Please note, the numbers provided are not emergency services, in the case of an emergency please dial 999.