For many, Valentine’s Day is a time to enjoy loving relationships, but for thousands of women and children across Wales, this Valentine’s Day will be spent just like every other day of the year, living in relationships dictated by fear, coercive control and abuse at the hands of their current or ex partner.
Some abusers also use Valentine’s Day to intimidate women. Flowers, chocolates or cards received from an ex-partner can send a chilling message to women that they are being watched, that the relationship isn’t over and that they cannot escape.
Last year in Wales, on the day after Valentine’s Day, 242 women and 123 children were being supported in a refuge service, run by the national network of specialist domestic abuse services. Last year, these specialist services in Wales supported 11,512 survivors of violence and abuse, and the Wales’s Live Fear Free Helpline received 28,392 calls and emails, asking for help for sexual violence and domestic abuse.
This Valentine’s Day, give a little more to friends and family members who are living in fear or being abused, by letting them know there is help and support available. The Live Fear Free website (in Welsh and English) provides more information about you can support someone. If you suspect a friend or family member may be living in fear or is being abused, bring the subject up yourself when the abuser isn’t around. Let them know you are concerned and want to help, reassure them that the abuse is not their fault and that you believe them. Try not to criticise the abuser or the relationship, focus on the abuse and their safety, and listen to what they say and let them guide you as to how best to support them.
The Life Fear Free Helpline is there for you, if want to talk in confidence about the options and help available. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, the Helpline can be contacted on 0808 80 10 800, day or night, by anyone who needs help or support because of domestic abuse or sexual violence. The Helpline is confidential and provides information, support, and help to access local services. The Helpline now also operates a web chat provision between 9am – 9pm every day and more information can be found here.
This Valentine’s Day, give a little more to Welsh Women’s Aid. Donating the cost of a bunch of roses or a box of chocolates to Welsh Women’s Aid will also help us continue to provide life-saving and life-changing help for women and children. Simply text EVAW15 £10 (or another amount) to 70070 or set up a regular direct debit or single donation at https://www.justgiving.com/welshwomensaid-wwa/Donate
Domestic violence is a serious crime, and we all have a role to play in speaking out and ending the abuse.