The Respect Phoneline is the UK’s only helpline, email, and webchat service for perpetrators of domestic abuse and those working with them. Our expert Helpline Advisors help callers take the first step towards accountability and change, to prevent further harm and keep survivors safe. 

We spoke to Mervin, one of our Helplines Advisors on the Respect Phoneline, about how the helpline will be supporting callers over the festive season.

For many, the festive period isn’t the best time of the year. In my experience as a Helplines Advisor, this is a time when we see continued high demand , with people reaching crisis point. 

On the Respect Phoneline, we speak to people who are concerned that their behaviour may be abusive, and we see common themes arising at this time of year. One of these is the pressure that people feel during the festive season: struggles with finances, relationships, child contact issues, loneliness, and poor mental health can all put additional pressure on relationships where abuse is already an issue. Despite these factors, it’s important to remember that abuse is always a choice.

We’re here to help people manage their behaviour, giving them the tools they need to navigate this period in a way that’s safe for their partner and family.

Understanding triggers

It’s important that people who are concerned about their behaviour understand the points at which they are more likely to behave abusively, so they can take action to manage their behaviour in a way that’s safe for them and those around them.

There are some triggers we hear about all year round, but this time of year can introduce additional stressors: the pressure of affording and buying gifts, the pressure to be and act happy, not being able to spend time with children, or spending more time at home. 

With so much going on at this time of year, lots of people feel stressed and under pressure, but we are always responsible for our behaviour, regardless of what’s going on around us. It’s ok to feel stressed, but it’s how you respond to it that makes a difference.

Understanding how you can manage your behaviour

Abuse is always a choice, and on the Respect Phoneline we support people to make a different, safer, choice. Advisors on the helpline help people to identify what is happening, emotionally and physically in the body, when they hit crisis point. When they notice this happening, they are encouraged to including removing themselves from the situation by leaving the home, or taking some time out  to keep their loved ones safe and reflect on their behaviour.

Whilst these are some effective ways to stop abuse in the moment, it can also be helpful to address the issues that are creating those feelings of pressure and stress. For example, if you are struggling with finances this season, there are support services that can help you navigate this. Money Helper is a service we signpost to on the helplines that gives advice around managing money and more.

Making a positive change

The Respect Phoneline is here for people reaching crisis point, but we are also here to support people making the decision to pursue long-term change. We can signpost callers to their local Respect-accredited perpetrator programme, which could help them address their behaviour and take accountability for their abuse.

Support over the festive period

The Respect Phoneline will be open for most of the festive period, but will be closing on bank holidays: 25 December, 26 December, 1 January.

Our usual opening times are:

Phone support0808 8024040Mon-Fri 10am-5pm
Email support[email protected]Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Webchat 2-4pm

What to do if the helpline is closed

If someone is in immediate danger, always call 999.

If you are not in immediate danger, but you need support, here are some helplines that can support you.

  • Samaritans - Samaritans is a unique charity dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide. Available 24 hours, 365 days a year on 116123.
  • National Suicide Prevention Helpline - A helpline for those grappling with their mental well-being or thoughts of suicide. Available 6pm to 3:30am everyday on 0800 689 5652.
  • CALM – A helpline supporting people with thoughts of suicide. Available 5pm – midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 585858.

If we are closed, you may be able to find the guidance or signposting you need on our website, where we host a number of resources including:

Respect is a registered charity in England and Wales, number 1141636, in Scotland, number SC051284 and a company, number 7582438. Registered address: VAI Second Floor, 200a Pentonville Road, London N1 9JP
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