Local people are urged to seek help if they experience domestic abuse over the festive period.

Reports of domestic abuse incidents often rise during the Christmas and New Year period, with abuse taking many forms: physical, mental, emotional, financial or sexual.

Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of their age, gender, race, religion, sexuality or wealth. Women and men can be victims of abuse, and abuse can happen in all relationships: heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Anyone suffering from domestic abuse is urged to get help as soon as they can by calling:

-999 in an emergency, or 101 to report a crime

-0800 027 1234 for Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage 24-hour helpline.

Louise Moore, who works in the council’s women and children’s first team, said domestic abuse can happen to anyone.

“Most commonly, domestic abuse is perpetrated by men against women, but men can also be victims of domestic abuse and it can happen in same sex relationships too. There is no ‘typical’ victim of domestic abuse, it can happen at any time in a person’s life no matter what their background, beliefs or circumstances are. One in five women experience domestic abuse in their lifetime.”

Councillor Marie McGurk, convener of communities, housing and planning for Renfrewshire Council, said it is important people reach out during the festive period.

“We often see an increase in domestic abuse incidents taking place over the Christmas and New Year period. Abusers can use the festive period to further exert control over their partner, similar to how they may use finances, alcohol, mental ill-health or blame to control them.

“With the current coronavirus restrictions in place, we expect more people to stay at home than normal and this could exacerbate domestic abuse incidents. It also means fewer opportunities for victims to report the abuse.

“If you are a victim of domestic abuse, if you are a woman or a man suffering from violence in your home, please reach out and get support. The long-term effects of abuse can be hugely damaging to victims and survivors, so I urge you to get help and support that’s available.”

For more advice, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/domestic-abuse