When home isn’t a safe place
A blog kindly written by our Lauren Richards regarding the impact of COVID-19 on those suffering from domestic abuse.
For many the announcement by Boris Johnson on 23 March, that the U.K would be entering into ‘lockdown’ was met with a sigh of relief. Relief that they would be able to cocoon themselves within the safety of their own homes with their loved ones. However, for others this announcement was not met with relief, but with fear and terror, as for those suffering and living with domestic abuse, the measures are likely to mean that they are now in ‘lockdown’ in what should be their place of safety, with their abusers.
With hundreds of thousands of workers in the UK having been furloughed already, with more expected to come, and a significant number of people now working from home, many people are now confined to their homes 24 hours a day. The rules set out by the Prime Minister on 23 March were clear: you must only leave your home to shop for essential items, once daily for exercise or to go to work (if you absolutely cannot work from home). These draconian measures are a first for the majority of this population, with similar measures having not been in place since war time. It has already been acknowledged that the measures are likely to have a detrimental impact on the mental health of many, but the lockdown has also begun to create a domestic violence pandemic of its own.
The effects of the lockdown on domestic abuse are already being seen, with more than 25 organisations helping domestic abuse victims reporting an increase in their case load since the start of the UK’S Coronavirus epidemic (The Guardian). The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls, and visits to the UK-wide National Domestic Abuse helpline website were 150% larger than during the last week in February (BBC News).
On 4 April, Merseyside Police were called to a domestic incident when a woman was stabbed in the face by her partner, following an argument. Addressing the incident Detective Chief Inspector Steve Reardon was clear that victims should not suffer in silence (The Independent).
So, what do you do if you are suffering from domestic abuse during this unprecedented time? Whilst it might seem that all of the country’s resources are currently being pumped into battling COVID-19, know that there is support out there for you. Do not suffer alone.
In the event of an emergency, still contact 999. Do not think that because of what is happening in the current time that the Police will not respond to you. If you are unable to speak wait to be prompted and dial 55. This will alert the Police to the fact that you are in trouble. This is called the Silent Solution System.
If you are able, contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for support. They can be called for free 24 hours per day. It is recognised that one effect of being in lockdown is that you may not be able to make a phone call. The helpline therefore offers the option of contacting them via their website. There is also a quick exit button that can be used if necessary.
Women’s Aid has also provided additional advice as a result of COVID-19, including a live chat service.
Whilst our offices are physically closed, our staff are working from home and are able to assist you with any family matters. Please contact the office on 01530 510666 to speak with a member of our family team.
Police: 999 (press 55 when prompted if you cannot speak)
National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327