The coronavirus outbreak has bought about many challenges, however the challenges for victims of domestic abuse has been of particular concern. Statistics have revealed a surge in domestic violence since the start of the coronavirus lockdown. Yesterday’s announcement of the extension of the lockdown period and the continuation of strict limitations on daily routines will no doubt bring further concerns for victims of domestic abuse.
COVID-19 Lockdown sees 25% increase in Domestic Violence
The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, reported a 25% increase in calls and messages from victims of abuse seeking help. This increase represents hundreds more calls across the UK, compared with the level seen just two weeks previously, prior to the COVID-19 restrictions being put into place.
With restrictions on travel, worries over employment, household children no longer attending school and a severely disrupted social life, the current ‘lockdown’ will cause tension and bring about pressure in the healthiest of domestic relationships
For victims of abuse however, the lockdown makes life even more difficult and potentially dangerous. With no clear end in sight to the lockdown restrictions, seeing these statistics so early in the lockdown process is concerning and frightening.
Why domestic abuse is such a problem during the lockdown
The coronavirus pandemic has forced unprecedented steps to restrict movement of citizens; victims of domestic abuse will suddenly have found themselves trapped at home with their abusive partners. The opportunity to seek help is limited. Victims of domestic abuse are unable, or too afraid to call the police.
Victims of domestic abuse become more vulnerable when confined at home with their abuser. A further element is that emotionally stressful events can lead to an increase in aggressive behaviour. Researchers identified spikes in incidents of domestic abuse during the 2008 economic crisis, when major disasters hit and during major football tournaments,
What can victims of abuse do during the lockdown?
It is undoubtedly more difficult than usual to take advice if you are a victim of abuse and don’t want your abuser to know about it. However, it is not impossible and you should not feel that you are alone.
If you feel that you or your children are at imminent risk due to your partner’s abusive behaviour, you should treat this as an emergency and dial 999 immediately. It is possible that abuse could become more serious during such stressful times, which may explain the sudden increase in reports of abuse in recent weeks.
If you don’t feel able to speak, you can still call 999 without speaking, but you must select the option 55, to let the operators know that your call is not a hoax or an accidental call.
If you don’t feel in immediate danger, but would still like to talk to someone, advice is available 24 hours a day, from either the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, or ourselves:
- Switalskis 24-Hour Domestic Abuse line – 0800 138 5536
- National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline’s website also allows you to contact them and features a ‘Quick Exit’ button to instantly remove all trace of you visiting their website from your device.
If you’re experiencing domestic violence or abuse, it is important that you reach out for help. We would remind you again to call 999 if you feel you are in immediate danger. If we can assist with legal advice, call our 24-hour emergency domestic abuse line on 0800 138 5536 or contact us through the website.