Angelina Jolie has urged women to "talk to someone" to protect themselves from abuse over the festive season.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

The 45-year-old actress - who is a Special Envoy for the United Nations - has issued some powerful advice as part of the organisation's '16 Days of Activism' campaign.

She told Harper's Bazaar magazine: "Talk to someone. Try to find allies. Be connected for emergencies. For example, you can agree a code word with a friend or family member, which tells them if you are facing an emergency.

"Begin to build a network and gain knowledge. It’s sad to say, but you can’t assume all friends and family will always want to believe and support you.

"Often it will be strangers who help. Or other victims, support groups, or faith groups. Above all, be careful.

"Only you really know the danger you are in, and until you find your support outside, you may feel quite alone."

Angelina - who has been motivated to help those suffering from abuse because of "how little accountability there is" - also called on people not to "judge" people who are suffering abuse.

She explained: "Take it seriously and stand by them. Listen to them. Don’t judge them.

"Try to understand the huge emotional, financial and legal pressures they are likely facing, including the pressure to stay silent about what has happened to them."

Meanwhile, the 'Maleficent' actress noted the importance of helping those who you may suspect might experience abuse over Christmas, and of education.

She added: "If it has even crossed your mind that someone you know might be vulnerable in this way, try to stay close and present in their lives.

"Make it clear that you are there for them. Another thing we can all do is educate ourselves.

"Learn about domestic violence. Learn how trauma affects our health and can lead to biological changes, particularly in children."

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