WOMEN across Sunderland will be verbally and physically attacked today as support agencies brace themselves for one of the busiest times of the year.
As many Wearsiders finish work for the Christmas break, domestic violence charity Wearside Women in Need is gearing up for a hectic period – known as Black Eye Friday.
Concerns are growing that drunk and violent men returning home after marathon drinking sessions will tonight verbally or physically abuse their partners.
Each day, five women on Wearside suffer abuse at the hands of their partners. During the past two years, 3,757 arrests have been made by police investigating domestic violence in Sunderland.
However, these figures are expected to rise dramatically over the coming two weeks.
Claire Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, said: “There are women out there who will be dreading their partners coming home.
“We expect to see an increase in people seeking support in the coming days. Perhaps on Saturday or Sunday, after what has happened on Friday sinks in, they decide to contact us.
“Often women are very reluctant to leave their partners at Christmas.
“We also see a spike around Boxing Day time when many women feel they have had enough and just want to leave.”
Staff from the charity will tonight be on patrol with Northumbria police officers in some of the city’s attack hot spots in a bid to crack down on the wife beaters.
The initiative, the first of its kind in the UK, sees the specially-trained team go to all reports of domestic violence on Friday and Saturday nights in the Concord and Sulgrave areas.
If successful, it could be rolled out across the city, and the country.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Sunderland and Washington West, recently went on patrol with the charity and Northumbria Police officers to see the work now being carried out to tackle the levels of abuse.
Washington Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Stewart said camera technology was also being used in the hope of securing more prosecutions.
He said: “Officers will activate the cameras when they walk into the scene and capture what is happening at the time – any damage, injuries and what is being said by the victim and the offender.
“This is especially useful for victims to make complaints and if we need to bring victimless prosecutions.”