Over 1,500 domestic abuse victims supported by WORTH in 2021

Since the beginning of the pandemic the restrictions and pressures placed on people’s daily lives have led to a rise in domestic abuse.

This is reflected in the number of residents seeking help in the past 12 months from West Sussex County Council’s WORTH Domestic Abuse Service, which has currently supported over 1,500 high risk victims.

The service’s qualified Independent Domestic Violence Advisors provide emotional and practical support to victims and survivors of domestic abuse, which includes advocacy, safety planning, support through the criminal justice system and help and advice with housing.

Besides the pandemic, domestic abuse cases can often increase at certain times of the year, including sporting events and Christmas.

Due to the seasonal increase in alcohol consumption, financial pressures and spending more time at home together, Christmas always sees a sharp increase in domestic violence and abuse.

Amanda Jupp, Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services, said: “Christmas is a time of joy and goodwill for many people, but it can also be a time of stress, fear and anxiety for those in a physical or emotionally abusive relationship.

“It is important to remember that Christmas is not the cause of domestic abuse, but it can worsen the experience for victims, as a variety of factors ultimately put more pressure on households. Whatever the cause, there is no excuse for abuse at any time of year and there is a variety of help and support available to anyone who is ready to move out of an abusive cycle.

“Please remember that you are not alone – there are organisations on hand to support you to move forward, whether it is at Christmas or whenever you are ready to take the next step.”

The County Council’s Worth Domestic Abuse Service is available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm on 0330 222 8181.

Outside of WORTH’s opening hours, anyone affected by domestic abuse can call the freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

If you are in immediate risk of harm always call 999 and press *55 to use the silent solution option if you are unable to speak.

The Ask for ANI codeword scheme is also available to allow victims of domestic abuse to access support from the safety of their local pharmacy.

This service can be found at all Boots, Superdrug and Morrisons pharmacies, as well as many local independent pharmacies.

All people need to do is go in and ‘Ask for ANI’ and the pharmacy will offer you a private space, provide a phone and ask if you want a 999 police response or to speak to a domestic abuse support helpline.

For more information and to find contact details for domestic violence charities and services across West Sussex, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/domesticabuse.