Cheshire Police is urging victims of domestic abuse to speak out this Christmas and change their lives for the better.
While most people see Christmas and New Year as a time to celebrate with family and friends, unfortunately for those living in the shadow of domestic abuse that will not be the case.
Domestic abuse, whether it's emotional, psychological or physical abuse, affects people regardless of gender, social group, class, age, race, religion, disability, sexuality or lifestyle and can begin at any time whether in a new relationship or after many years together.
Reports of domestic abuse can often increase over the Christmas period; last year officers supported more than 800 victims during the festive season (between 1/12/2016 and 31/1/2017) in Cheshire.
Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Lee, of the Constabulary's Public Protection Unit, said: "Christmas should be a time for celebration, but this time of year can be one of the hardest for victims of domestic abuse.
"We know that victims, both men and women, often suffer in silence for the sake of their families so that they don't spoil Christmas for everyone else. However, nobody should have endure the pain and suffering of domestic abuse and I would say to all victims that now is the time to be brave, have a fresh start and begin the year by speaking out and putting a stop to it.
"Here at Cheshire Police we have a dedicated team of specialist officers who are available to listen, provide support and help victims break free from their abusers."
As well as police support, there are also a number of agencies and charities who offer specialist support for domestic abuse victims, including:
• National Domestic Violence Helpline - 0808 2000 247 (24-hour freephone helpline run in partnership between Women′s Aid and Refuge.)
• Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Family Safety Unit − 01606 363532
• Cheshire East Domestic Abuse Hub 0300 123 5101
Advice and support is also available for people who are concerned about their behaviour towards their partners via the Respect helpline on 0808 802 4040.
More information about where to go to seek help regarding domestic abuse can be found on the Cheshire Police website.