EVERY YEAR, mental health services and specialist domestic violence response services usually brace for higher demand over Christmas.
But many services said the demand for them this holiday period was even higher thanks to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Centre for Non-Violence Executive Manager Yvette Jaczina said the data showed there was an ongoing and steady demand over the past two weeks for these services.
Sadly, she also said this data was only the tip of the iceberg - many more incidents go unreported.
"We had a steady demand within our services," she said.
Women are finding it increasingly more difficult, they are isolating with their partners now and throughout the pandemic, we have seen perpetrators of family violence take advantage of the pandemic.- Centre for Non-Violence Executive Manager Yvette Jaczina
"One of the things that we did hear from our teams was that women have found it difficult to seek help because their abusers are in the home more due to holidays and as well as the current COVID situation.
"There are challenges in seeking support from health professionals, there is significant pressure on the health system and there are many people who are isolating at the moment who are struggling to get access to that support."
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Ms Jaczina said the recent festive period also brought added pressures for families, like the heavy financial impact of the pandemic.
And there had also been significant demand for emergency relief funding, she said.
"Women are finding it increasingly more difficult, they are isolating with their partners now and throughout the pandemic, we have seen perpetrators of family violence take advantage of the pandemic," she said.
"During the festive season, we do hear of the impact of family violence and increased risk and now that's overlaid with what we are experiencing with the pandemic."
Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee executive officer Lisa Renato said over the Christmas period, calls to the service had doubled.
Ms Renato said it was due to a number of reasons including a rise in domestic violence.
"Over the two weeks from Christmas Eve to January 4, we took almost twice as many calls as ever," she said.
"Often Boxing Day, News Years Eve, New Years Day, we do see calls rise.
"People need that additional support and we had volunteers monitoring calls through that period.
"A number of factors and they include the pandemic, people are seeing it more acceptable to reach out for help and also increased numbers of domestic violence."
Every three calls they receive at Lifeline Victoria, two are from women, something which Ms Renato said aligns with the increase they've experienced in domestic violence stressors.
Ms Jaczina encouraged people to play a part in supporting women and children's safety by being mindful of how others were being treated, and not ignoring any warning signs.
"We always do try and give the message to the community with how they can support someone experiencing family violence," she said.
"It might not always for it to be safe to intervene but it's important they don't ignore what they are seeing, never excusing violence of abuse and calling out violence.
"We should be calling disrespect out and contributing to the communities effort to end violence."
If you or someone you know is experiencing family and domestic violence, help is available, contact:
If a life is in danger, call Triple Zero (000).
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