Bruce Thomas

Season for domestic violence

THE Lismore Womens and Childrens Refuge Inc has urged victims of domestic violence to break their silence this Christmas, a time when the refuge experiences a spike in family disputes.

“When everything is unwrapped and the reality hits, that’s when we get busy – it peaks about New Year,” Justine Cox, manager of the Lismore Women’s Refuge, said.

Ms Cox agreed with the statement released yesterday by Minister for Community Services Linda Burney that a combination of stress, alcohol, family tensions and financial worries could trigger a rise in abuse at Christmas time.

She said the North Coast housing crisis made this time of year even harder for local victims and their children.

“Women need to be prepared. When the university students start looking for housing in the New Year there is a shortage of affordable accommodation. It makes it harder to make a break from a violent situation,” she said.

Ms Cox urged victims to contact the refuge, even if it is just for advice.

“We’re available 24 hours, seven says a week,” she said.

Lismore also has the Bugalma Bihyn Aboriginal Women’s Refuge, a dedicated refuge for Aboriginal women and their children.

Yesterday, NSW Police Minister Michael Daley said the Police Force, particularly police domestic violence liaison officers, were also preparing for a spike in calls over the holiday period.

“In November 2008, there were around 2250 reports of domestic violence related assaults,” he said.

“This rose to more than 2465 reports in December 2008, and 2690 in January 2009.”

If you, or someone you know, needs help contact the Community Services Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63, or the Lismore Women’s Refuge on 6621 2685.

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