Happy New Year to everyone who reads this. As a new year starts, most of us are looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, as am I. But the 4th January has always been a very busy but not so enjoyable day for me in my profession. I don’t know how many of my fellow colleagues up and down the country would agree, but in my 20 years experience of working in the field of domestic abuse, the 4th of January has always been a date that many, many women finally find the courage to escape their abusive partner. I do have a theory for this. I feel that maybe it is because Christmas and New Year are times when they want their children/families to be happy. Being that most women in abusive relationships feel a sense of responsibility, and also, although they shouldn’t, shame about what they have experienced, they do not want to upset anyone. No time is a good time to leave an abusive relationship! but the festive year is definitely out of bounds! The first ‘normal’ day after the festive period is usually the 4th of January and so I believe this is when women make the decision to leave. All that has happened during the festive period, they suffer quietly for fear that their children and families happiness will be spoilt. I’ve always found it very ironic that I, myself left my abusive relationship on the 4th of January – 28 years ago tomorrow! For exactly the same reasons I have spoken of. So I will return to work tomorrow with a heavy heart for what the day will bring but also with the knowledge that these women will be making the very important step of living without fear and I shall salute them, one and all.