What is domestic abuse? Does it only happen to women? Who can help?
These are some of the questions West Sussex residents are being asked to consider as part of a new campaign to get people talking about domestic abuse this Christmas.
“Ask us anything” is the campaign being launched by West Sussex County Council this December. It aims to raise awareness of domestic abuse and sends a clear message that this type of abuse won’t be tolerated in West Sussex.
Residents can submit their questions anonymously by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via social media (using the #AskUsAnything) to the County Council’s Community Safety Team. Every question will then be answered by our panel of experts on Facebook and Twitter.
Discussions about domestic abuse are particularly important at the moment.
Financial pressures, more time with family and increased alcohol consumption means Christmas can be a challenging time for survivors of domestic abuse. For many living with domestic abuse, COVID-19 has made life immeasurably harder, with increased risk, and reduced opportunities to seek help.
One domestic abuse victim explains the impact of the pandemic on her situation: “Him being home all the time has meant that there has been no break, every single day, he breaks me that bit more. My mental health is at rock bottom. I don’t know how much more I can take.”
Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “This is likely to be a very different Christmas from usual. We will all be spending more time at home, but for those living in an abusive situation, the seasonal increase in alcohol consumption, financial pressures and spending more time at home together, is likely to sharply increase incidences of domestic abuse.
“We’re encouraging residents to start talking about domestic abuse. By having more of these conversations and challenging myths and misconceptions, we can raise awareness of this issue and send a clear message that domestic abuse won’t be tolerated in West Sussex.”
Anyone who believes they are experiencing domestic abuse, or is worried about a friend, neighbour or family member should contact West Sussex County Council’s WORTH service by calling 0330 222 8181 or emailing DomesticAbuseServicesCentral@westsussex.gov.uk. You will speak to a trained adviser who can find out more about your situation and the best way of offering support.