Domestic violence victims face Christmas alone as services shut down
Nicole Adler said she was vulnerable and alone during one Christmas. (ABC News: Justine Kearney)
It’s a sad irony that reported incidents of domestic violence increase during the festive season by 25 per cent in New South Wales, while services for victims decline.
- The number of domestic violence incidents jump 25 per cent over the Christmas season
- Women’s Community Shelters say there is a 30 per cent increase in demand for beds
- Yet, many family violence support services close until second week of January
Single mother-of-four Nicole Adler experienced those sad statistics for herself on Boxing Day 10 years ago when her partner became abusive and threatening.
“My partner was using drugs and gambling and we were living in a one-bedroom unit with the children … he was demanding money off me,” Ms Adler said.
He was arrested but released on bail.
Ms Adler said the lack of support services forced her back to the place she felt the most vulnerable.
“I think the problem is that a lot of the services actually wind down over the Christmas period and they don’t seem to come online until about the second week of January,” she said.
CatholicCare’s Violence Prevention Educator Danielle Habib said a lot more support is needed during the festive season.
Family and domestic violence support services:
“The courts are closing down on the 24th of December and they close down for two weeks when a lot of that legal aid support closes down with that as well,” she said.
According to the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, reports of domestic violence jump 25 per cent over the festive season.
The domestic violence counselling service 1800Respect said support services experience a similar spike in calls for help, while the Women’s Community Shelters said there’s a 30 per cent increase in demand for beds.
Danielle Habib said women’s refuges are always full with demand increasing over the festive season. (ABC News: Anthony Scully)
Social Worker and therapist Rebecca Braid said if people are experiencing stress and concern about triggering their partner, it’s important to have a safety plan.
“They are not responsible for their partner’s behaviour and they can’t be,” Dr Braid said.
“It is vital that they reach out for help when needed and if they’re in fear of their life to put in place a safety plan and remove themselves from the situation.”
Ms Adler said domestic violence can be complex and often there is not a clear way out.
“With the benefit of hindsight it is better actually to seek that advice and see if you can find an exit strategy,” she said.