Coronavirus (COVID-19) and domestic abuse

Coronavirus isolation can cause additional anxiety for those at risk of domestic abuse.  Anyone can be a victim, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.  It can be between partners or parents to children, and by children to parents. Older people are also at risk.

What is it? Domestic abuse is not only physical violence but can include coercive control, economic abuse, online abuse, threats and intimidation, emotional and sexual abuse.

If you believe that you, or someone else, could be a victim, look out for signs: do they, or you, seem withdrawn, or isolated from family and friends? Showing bruises, burns or bite marks?  Are their finances controlled or not given enough to buy food or pay bills?  Maybe not allowed to leave the house, go to college or work, or having internet or social media use monitored, their texts, emails or letters read?  Other signs include being repeatedly belittled, put down or told they are worthless, being pressured into sex and told that abuse is your fault, or that you’re overreacting.

What to do: The first thing to do is remember that domestic abuse is not right and there is help.  This help is open to victims and there is help too for abusers.

 If you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse, you may ignore any household isolation instructions as a result of coronavirus.

Report it. If you are in immediate danger, or you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, call 999 and ask for the police.  If you are unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and listen to the questions from the operator and, if you can, respond by coughing or tapping on the handset.

Help. National Domestic Abuse Helpline (open 24/7) Phone/TypeTalk 0808 2000 247 https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/

Women’s Aid https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/ live chat at https://chat.womensaid.org.uk/

Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 327 https://mensadviceline.org.uk/

Hourglass (for concerns about older people) 0808 808 8481 https://wearehourglass.org/

NSPCC helpline – advice and support for anyone with concerns about a child        0808 8005000 https://www.nspcc.org.uk/

Childline – help and support for children and young people 0800 1111 https://www.childline.org.uk/

Respect. Anonymous and confidential helpline for men and women who are harming their partners and families, and anyone concerned about perpetrators. https://respectphoneline.org.uk/ 0808 802 4040

This guide is based upon the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help#get-help-if-you-or-someone-you-know-is-a-victim where further links and guidance may be found.