NEW figures have revealed a rise in reports of domestic abuse in North Tyneside during the summer months.
During 2011, the number of reported incidents increased from 327 in May to 380 in August, before falling to 335 in September. There was a similar pattern in 2010.
Work is now under way to encourage those at risk to speak up rather than suffer in silence.
Officials believe a combination of factors during the summer holiday period can sometimes exacerbate existing tensions and behaviours, which in some cases can lead to abusive and violent behaviour towards a partner or family member.
These may include the family spending more time together, the financial pressures of providing a holiday or entertainment, and excessive consumption of alcohol.
Sharon Thompson, an independent domestic violence advisor at domestic violence advocacy service Acorns, said: “We always see a rise in referrals during the summer when existing tensions can be intensified by the pressures of having the children at home for six weeks.
“Some parents find this difficult to deal with, and sadly in some cases this will escalate into abusive or violent behaviour between parents or carers.
“We also know that there are many more cases that go unreported, and families continue to suffer in silence.
“We want to put an end to that and we want people to speak out if they are experiencing violence and abuse.
“This is a difficult and sensitive issue and it takes a lot of courage to speak up, but we want to reassure people that help is available, all you need to do is take that first step.”
Anyone in immediate danger of domestic violence should contact 999 or if experiencing abuse, or are worried about a friend or relative, then contact police on 101.
Detective Chief Inspector Max Black, of the protecting vulnerable people unit based at North Tyneside area command, said: “We have teams of specially trained domestic abuse investigators who work with victims and partner agencies, including North Tyneside Council, to ensure victims and their children are supported and protected.
“At the same time we work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure offenders are prosecuted.
“No one should suffer domestic violence – it is a crime and we urge all victims to come forward and report it to police.”
A number of services in North Tyneside can provide advice, support and a safe place to stay, as well as offering support and help to children who have experienced or witnessed the violence or abuse.
Mayor Linda Arkley, and chair of the Safer North Tyneside Partnership, said: “Domestic abuse and violence remains a hidden issue, with many cases going unreported each month, and we want to change this.
“North Tyneside Council and its partners are working hard to make sure that the right advice, support and help is available to those who are affected by domestic abuse and violence.
“Our mutual aim is to enable and encourage more reporting, so that we can protect those at risk, and take action against those who commit this crime.”
• Where to go for help in North Tyneside
SAINT – 07552 164256;
Harbour – (0191) 251 3305;
Acorns – (0191) 200 6302;
Victim Support – (0191) 257 9079;
Refuge (24 hour helpline) – 0870 5995 443;
Police Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 066 5555;
Women’s Aid – 0808 2000 247.