A DOMESTIC violence charity which operates in Solihull says it worked with around 500 women in the borough last year.
The Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid has issued a Christmas message calling for a ‘huge change in society’ to prevent abuse.
The charity’s operations manager Sally Dennis says the number seeking support continues to rise.
It offers support to women living in its refuges, many with children, and women experiencing domestic abuse in the community.
Ms Dennis says there is always demand for its services but the charity’s capacity is limited, which prevents it helping more women.
She said: “Domestic abuse isn’t something that happens more at Christmas, it is a pattern of coercion and control which unfortunately happens all year round.
“However it might be at Christmas that it’s harder for women to seek help as services are less available, they may be desperate to keep the family together over Christmas for the sake of their children and the abuser may be round more within the family home and therefore more able to exert control over his partner.
“Sometimes, when alcohol is involved, abusers are less careful about the way they use tactics of intimidation and violence to control their partners.
“They may be noisier and more overtly aggressive and so it can be more likely that the police are called out to specific incidents. “We as specialist providers get the calls after Christmas.
“To combat domestic abuse we really need a huge change in society – domestic abuse needs to become unacceptable.
“We need well-funded and proactive criminal justice responses, safe and welcoming places for women and children to go and stay in an emergency, good quality housing for them to be able to rebuild their lives in safety and health and social care services that believe and support women who are victims of abuse.
“In Solihull, a recent development is the introduction of IRIS, a programme which involved training GP practices to identify and respond to domestic abuse, allowing them to refer into one of our specialist support workers.
“This provides access for some of the most vulnerable and isolated women, many of whom have little contact with any services other than their GP.
“We are also looking at ways that we can better support women around their housing options as homelessness is one of the key issues facing many women and children fleeing abuse.”