Christmas is a time for peace on Earth... and at home
CHRISTMAS is a season of joy for most families, but for some, it can be dangerous.
This time of year sees a spike in domestic violence.
"When families come together around this time of year, we notice an increase in domestic violence incidents," Edon Place service director Lyne Booth said.
"It can also be related to alcohol or drug use, and it is a time of year when a lot of money's being spent - there could be financial problems within the family and that can escalate this behaviour."
One in six Australian women have experienced violence at the hands of a partner or ex-partner and 79 women have been killed in such circumstances this year.
Women are three to four times more likely to be the victim of domestic violence than men.
"It is important to stay safe," Ms Booth said.
"Make sure you and your children have somewhere to go if you need to."
If you are concerned for a friend or family member, Ms Booth said, "Call us. Anyone is able to call our service and seek advice.
"If they're calling on behalf of someone else, the next step is to get that person to ring us.
"We make an appointment with them to see one of the case workers to have a chat with them to see how we can assist them.
"They have to want to do it. That can be the hard part."
Many victims stay with their abusers to keep their families together, Ms Booth said, and try to minimise what is going on - especially when offenders say they are sorry and promise to change.
"In general terms, if it happens once it will continue to happen, until you break that cycle," Ms Booth said.
Edon Place has six units housing domestic violence victims and their families.
"We provide them with everything because most of them come with nothing," Ms Booth said.
This includes toiletries, food and shelter, and essentials like linen and towels. From there, residents can be referred to counselling or other assistance such as housing.
Staff at Edon Place responded to 510 requests for information in the financial year for 2014/15, and assisted 254 women in obtaining or maintaining Domestic Violence Protection Orders at courts in Bundaberg, Childers and Gayndah - numbers that have risen from last year.
In a positive twist, along with the spike in violence, EDON Place receives a jump in donations from the community at Christmas, and this year has seen more generosity than ever.
"This year it's been unbelievable," Ms Booth said. "Individual people ring us up but also organisations, clubs and businesses. We've had soft drinks donated from Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, we've had hampers donated from an accounting firm.
"We've been able to supply all the mums at our centre with toys - presents for the children - and also gifts that the children can give the mums.
"It's just been wonderful.
"As we know, domestic and family violence is out there. People are talking about it more, people are recognizing that it's in our community - and they want to stop it.
"They're supporting the women because it's the women who have to leave home - and it shouldn't be that way. We just want to say thank you."
The Federal Government pledged $100 million in funding towards domestic violence services this year and Ms Booth said EDON Place hopes to see some of the money next year.
"2016 is going to see some great changes take place - hopefully we will have more good news next year."