A DOMESTIC abuse awareness campaign has been launched in the run up to Christmas.

The often hidden problem can blight family and personal relationships, particularly in the festive period.

Sussex Police is working with specialist services and charities to raise awareness and target the issue.

Launched yesterday (mon dec 14) police officers and independent domestic violence advisors will be visiting about 10 previous victims of abuse to offer information, support and reassurance.

From next week (mon dec 21) dedicated police patrols will be responding to reports of domestic abuse over the Christmas and New Year period.

Officers will be equipped with body-worn video cameras to help secure vital evidence.

Posters will also be going on display around the county to highlight the campaign.

Detective Superintendent Paul Furnell said: "At Christmas and the New Year generally we have seen a rise in reports of domestic abuse.

“This may be due to excessive alcohol consumption, people spending more time at home, or financial pressures, but whatever the reason there are no excuses.

"There may be only one chance when people reach out to us, so we aim to ensure that we always put the needs of the victim first, to help people with rebuilding their lives."

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne said: "Stopping domestic abuse remains a priority and I'm pleased that this year's campaign continues with the important preventative work from last year.

"Far too often the onus is put on the victim to report and abusers need to know that they have nowhere to hide.

“Those who subject others to forms of coercive and controlling behaviour such as sexual abuse, financial control, threatening texts and stalking, will now be brought to justice when coercive and controlling behaviour becomes a criminal offence later this month.”

It is estimated one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their life.

Domestic abuse affects all social groups regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race or religion.

It is more than just physical violence as it can also involve threatening or coercive behaviour, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse.

Last year there were 823 reported domestic abuse incidents in Sussex over the Christmas and New Year period and there were 262 arrests.