Fermanagh Women's Aid have stated that there has been a six per cent increase in both recorded incidents and crimes with a domestic abuse motivation throughout Fermanagh and Omagh District from 2016/2017 to 2017/2018.

During 2016/2017 the number of recorded incidents were 1661 rising to 1766 in 2017/2018 and the number of recorded crimes increased from 725 in 2016/2017 to 769 in 2017/2018.

These local statistics coincide with those reported in the recent launch of the Police Service of Northern Ireland's annual Domestic Abuse Christmas Campaign.

In a statement, Detective Superintendent Ryan Henderson, from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch said: "Looking at the overall statistics from October 1 2017 until September 30 2018 there were 31,008 domestic abuse incidents recorded; an increase of 1,582 (5.4 per cent) on the previous 12 months. The figures are the highest of any 12-month period since PSNI started recording data in 2004/05. These stark figures tell us more victims are finding the courage to pick up the phone and make a report, which is encouraging, but we must always remember behind each statistic is a victim," he added.

With the campaign, which spreads the message that 'if you feel like you're walking on eggshells, that's domestic abuse,' the PSNI wants to remind people that they do not have to suffer in silence and aims to encourage the reporting of incidents.

Speaking on behalf of the PSNI, Detective Superintendent Henderson said: “Our role is about prevention, protection and prosecution; to prevent further violence, to protect the victim, children and other vulnerable people and to facilitate the prosecution of offenders. We want anyone impacted by domestic abuse to know there is help out there."

Although the campaign is scheduled to run until mid-January, Detective Superintendent Henderson emphasised that “domestic abuse doesn’t only occur at Christmas; it happens all year round."

This was affirmed by Fermanagh Women's Aid, who told this newspaper that they tend to receive more referrals from April to June and September to October, than during the Christmas period .

A spokeswoman for Fermanagh Women's Aid said: "For those women who are still in abusive relationships, their main focus is on seeking support and guidance, so that they can learn how to keep themselves safe during holiday periods (Summer and Christmas). For women who have left the abusive relationship, but are still experiencing abuse from their ex or have children with their ex, we also support them through safety and support planning for the holiday period."

Fermanagh Women’s Aid provide support and safety planning for women and their children every day of the year. They currently support 108 Women in Floating Support Services, 111 Children in Children’s and Young People’s Services and three women and two children are accommodated in Emergency Accommodation.

Since April 2018 Fermanagh Women's Aid have delivered Domestic Violence Awareness Training in various formats to 255 individuals in the community, delivered by a Training Coordinator. Through this initiative 28 local PSNI officers (Fermanagh and Omagh) have participated in OCN Level 2 in Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness, 21 staff in Social Services have participated in Domestic Violence Awareness and 40 Hairdressers, Beauticians and Trainee Hairdressers have participated in Domestic Violence Awareness specific to Hairdressers.

A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline is available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past on 0808 802 1414. Anyone suffering from domestic abuse can call their local police on the non-emergency 101 or, in an emergency, always call 999.