Police have launched an awareness campaign in the run-up to Christmas in areas they say are hotspots for domestic violence.
Figures for the last year have shown the number of reports of domestic abuse has risen by around 1,000 since the previous year.
Despite this rise police said they believe many incidents of this kind remain unreported.
The advertising campaign, ‘Behind Closed Doors’, will run in areas across Northern Ireland including North, South, East and West Belfast, Foyle, Craigavon and Lisburn, and will feature billboard and Facebook advertising.
The campaign aims to encourage victims of abuse to come forward, but also targets neighbours, family or friends of victims to encourage them to report any incidents anonymously to Crimestoppers.”
Research suggests the number of incidents of domestic abuse tends to rise over Christmas and New Year.
Superintendent Alan Skelton said: “Since October 2012 we have received 27,562 reports of domestic abuse incidents.
“This is in comparison to the previous year’s figure of 26,555. This increase reflects our continued commitment to working in partnership with stakeholder organisations to increase reporting and improve our response to victims of domestic abuse. Despite the rise in the number of reported incidents we still believe that a large number of domestic incidents are going unreported.
“We know from our research that incidents of domestic abuse rise over the festive season. It is a frightening crime which can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender or sexuality. Very often victims are isolated.
“No one should have to endure abuse and I want to encourage all victims of domestic abuse to come forward and report the matter to the police.”
Susan Brew from Crimestoppers said she wanted to assure anyone thinking of contacting them that they will remain completely anonymous.
“No one will ever know you made the call so we would encourage anyone with information on domestic abuse to call us.”
Justice Minister David Ford said the campaign is timely.
“t is therefore appropriate that we heighten awareness of this dreadful crime at this time of the year and encourage reporting of it.
“This campaign focuses on the third party – those who may know either the victim or the perpetrator. As difficult as people may feel find it, there is an onus on all of society to address domestic violence and abuse. By reporting domestic abuse or their concerns, victims may get the protection and support they need and perpetrators held to account for their actions.”
A 24 hour Domestic and Sexual Violence Helpline is also available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual violence, now or in the past. It is open to all women and men affected by domestic and sexual violence on 0808 802 1414.
Police have also encouraged anyone suffering from domestic abuse to contact their local police on 0845 600 8000 or in an emergency, call 999.
Over the past three years, through the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences, the PSNI has assisted in the development of over 6,000 high risk victims of domestic abuse.