Christmas and New Year is a time of joy for many families but it can also be a very difficult time for women and children living in fear of violence or abuse in their own homes.

One in four women will suffer from domestic abuse at some point of their lives and Christmas is a time when there’s a considerable rise in domestic violence.

The Colin Domestic Violence Sub Group has put in place a strategy recognising that issues of domestic violence and abuse cannot be dealt with by any one organisation alone and is therefore committed to working in partnership to effectively identify and address this issue within the Colin area and the impact it has on women and children.

The group would like women to know that there is confidential help and support available to them over the Christmas period – and indeed all year round.

Its members come from a wide variety of organisations and all are lobbying for the same goal, to keep women free from domestic violence, an issue that can prove difficult even after help is sought.

“There is no other issue that results in the victim of a violent crime being forced to leave their own home,” explained Maura McGeown of De Paul Ireland’s Cloverhill Hostel.

To battle the rising problem, Colin Domestic Violence Sub Group has lobbied strongly over the past year, including against the proposal that Non-Molestation Orders will be served by in the future by civilians as opposed to the PSNI.

“The Colin Domestic Violence Sub Group has taken the lead in championing this lobby and we are delighted that the Justice Committee are asking the Justice Minister to freeze this decision with the intention of holding a full debate on this very important issue,” said Michael George of the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership.

A 24-hour domestic violence freephone helpline is available on 0800 917 1414. But any woman in immediate danger should still call 999