Merseyside Police is leading a campaign to raise awareness about the devastating effect domestic abuse has on victims and their families, and how they can get help to draw a line and make it stop.

The police campaign “Draw A Line” is running in every area of Merseyside and is being backed by local authorities, charities and support groups.

Abuse survivor Julie Graham is supporting the campaign.

The 43-year-old mum-of-two from Sefton was attacked with a hammer and a knife by her former partner in 2008 months after they had split up over his violent, controlling behaviour and his alcohol and gambling habits.

Julie only survived after left he had left her for dead in the home she and her two sons had recently moved to because she managed to crawl to the phone and dial 999.

Now in the weeks before Christmas when domestic abuse historically increases, Julie is making a plea to other victims, women and men alike, not to suffer in silence like she did.

She said: "I suffered months of terrible physical and emotional abuse which got worse each time but I told myself 'you can cope' or 'this is my life now, just deal with it'.

“And even though I thought I was shielding the kids from it, I wasn't - they picked up on it and have gone through a lot themselves.

"I just wish I had realised back then just how supportive and protective the police and everyone are when you do report it.

Representatives from the campaign are marking its launch by debating the issues around domestic abuse live on BBC Radio Merseyside's Roger Phillips show today, Monday, December 10, between 11.30am and 2pm.

The discussion is being attended by Merseyside Police Chief Constable Jon Murphy, Detective Superintendent Tim Keelan, who heads up the force's Public Protection Unit, and detectives from family crime investigation units in Knowsley and Liverpool.

Detective Supt Keelan said: "Domestic abuse is still a significantly under-reported crime and sadly, too many people are still suffering in silence.

"Breaking out of the cycle of abuse is difficult and repeat victimisation is high but help is out there and that is why it is so important for people like Julie to tell their story so that other victims realise there is a way out."

Friends, neighbours, workmates, health professionals and employers are being encouraged to make third party reports if they have serious concerns that someone is suffering in an abusive relationship. Information is available at about how to help.

Throughout December and January, officers from Merseyside Police's as six family crime investigation units will be on mobile patrol alongside uniform colleagues to support them in dealing with an anticipated rise in domestic abuse incidents.

To report an ongoing incident of domestic abuse or domestic violence always call 999 and ask for the police. If you are worried about a friend, relative, colleague or neighbour call the police on 101.

For specialist advice and support, call Women's Aid on 0808 2000 247, Man Kind on 01823 334 224 or Savera Liverpool (aimed at helping black, asian, ethnic minority and refugee victims of domestic abuse) on 07716 266 484.