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Swindon Women’s Aid shelter is ready for festive influx
FOR most, Christmas is a time to look forward to, spent with family and loved ones.
Many gather for several days every year to enjoy each other’s company during the festive period. Gifts are given and a good time is had by all.
But for some the excesses of Christmas can become a nightmare as a mixture of alcohol and the pressure to create the perfect family occasion lead to tensions boiling over.
It is one of the busiest times of year for Swindon Women’s Aid, with many victims of domestic abuse arriving at the shelter in desperate need of help. More often than not, they will arrive with children and nothing else but the clothes they are wearing.
Swindon Women’s Aid director Olwen Kelly said Christmas can all too easily create a combustible environment, perfect for domestic violence to manifest itself.
She said: “Unfortunately, if domestic violence is going to happen, then it will at some point.
“Christmas is a time when many contributing factors come together. There is often a much larger quantity of alcohol being drunk.
“Alcohol is not the cause behind it but can increase the likelihood of an argument and the ease to which violence is resorted too.
“Families very often spend far more time cooped up together than they would at any other time of the year. This doesn’t give people the space they may need to cool down and so there is a far greater level of tension.
“The pressure to have the perfect Christmas can so often increase this tension. We see on television perfect families gathered around celebrating Christmas but it is so rarely, if ever, actually like that.
“Many try to re-create this scenario and it can lead to frustration when everything does not go according to plan.”
The fallout from domestic violence can be devastating, especially for children who are caught in the middle.
Throughout the Christmas period the charity is the place of last resort for many who have nowhere left to turn. “We get some people turning up in the early hours of Christmas morning,” said Olwen.
“They are often traumatised by their experience and in some cases spent several hours giving statements to the police.
“They may very well have absolutely nothing with them.”
This is where Swindon Women’s Aid steps in to give the women who have come to them and their children the best Christmas possible.
Olwen said: “When they first arrive we will give them the basics, such as a change of clothes and toiletries.
“On Christmas Day we try and make it as special a day as possible, especially for the children.
“We give them presents and have a Christmas dinner.
“It is important to try and get some degree of normality after what has been a very traumatic experience.
“This is all funded through donations from groups and members of the public.
“Christmas is not the cause of domestic violence, which occurs all year around. Unfortunately there is an increase in incidents and the donations people give can make such a difference.”
More information at www.swindonwomensaid.org.
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