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Behind Closed Doors- Domestic Violence at Christmas

Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for women and children experiencing domestic violence. We speak to Chief executive of Refuge, Sandra Horley CBE.

“Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Christmas is meant to be a time of joy, a time of generosity, a time of caring. But for too many women and children, the 25th December will be yet another day of living with fear, intimidation and violence.”

“At Refuge, we actually receive fewer visits to the website, and fewer calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership with Women’s Aid) around Christmas than we do at other times of the year.  It can often be very difficult for a woman experiencing domestic violence to access support during the festive period – a period when her abusive partner may be spending more time at home and monitoring her behaviour more closely than ever.”

“It’s also important to remember that women experience violence and abuse at the hands of their partners every day, not just at Christmas. Domestic violence is an abuse of power – it is the repeated, habitual use of violence and intimidation to control another person. We cannot blame domestic violence on Christmas, alcohol, drugs, unemployment, stress, money worries or ill health. These are just excuses for an abuser’s behaviour.”

“If you are experiencing domestic violence, Refuge is here to support you – every day of the year. No woman should feel isolated and alone. Please visit the ‘Get Help Now’ section of our website to find out more.”

There are ways you can give women and children who’ve experienced domestic violence a gift this Christmas – and show them they’re not alone.

The national domestic violence charity Refuge provides support to around 4,500 women and children escaping domestic violence on any given day. For a family escaping domestic violence, the thought of not being at home for Christmas can be distressing. Many women and children will have fled to Refuge’s services with little more than the clothes on their backs and perhaps a child’s favourite toy. Families in crisis are often unable to afford luxury items like presents.

This Christmas, Refuge will be supporting more women and children than ever before – and it needs your help to brighten their Christmas Days. If you donate to the gift list, Refuge’s staff will transform your donation into a personal, seasonal gift for the women and children they support. These gifts are cherished by the women and children who receive them.

Diana* stayed in one of their refuges over 10 years ago and received a toaster one Christmas. It was the only thing she opened that year and she still has the toaster to this day.

To find out more about Refuge and donate to its gift list, visit

*Name has been changed

(Photo credit Julian Nieman for Refuge)

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