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Covid-19 and how to overcome Domestic Violence

The Coronavirus lockdown has  tensions and with that has come a drastic rise in domestic abuse cases. 

Refuge (the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity) reported that calls to their helpline increased by 700% in a single day. They are just one of several helplines to reveal some shocking findings. 

As of the 9th March, there were 4093 domestic abuse arrests in London in just six weeks, which is an increase of 24% in comparison to this time last year. The Metropolitan Police are arresting an average of 100 people a day in London.

Calling a helpline for support or advice; or 101 for help from the police are both options you should consider rather than suffering alone. The fear from abuse can leave you feeling paralysed and fearful of being caught doing anything to upset your abuser and make your own life (and your kids’ life) worse. But NO-ONE has the right to abuse you – NO-ONE, NOT for any reason. Under no circumstance, no matter how difficult, should you continue to live with abuse. So if you find the helpline is busy, or you wondering about taking steps to see if you can alter the situation before calling a helpline or the police, then please find some suggestions below. You know your situation best and you may feel that its temporary given the elevated levels of stress caused by this pandemic and hopefully the tips below can help. If the situation escalates or you feel out of your depth, please reach out to the organisations out there to help you or to the police.

The 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is a free phone number – 0808 2000 247 – run by Refuge. Refuge also offers support online at www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk.

Alternatively, Be Female is a charity provides resources to educate females so that they are empowered to live a happier life. We have various resources about abusive relationships on our website, which you can find here. (If you are male and seeking help for an abusive situation, please see our partner website: www.beingmale.co.uk).

Keeping Yourself Safe

Sadly, isolation is already a tool that domestic abusers use to control their victims. With a pandemic that’s forcing everyone to stay inside, this can give the perpetrator a perfect excuse to escalate their patterns of coercive, controlling, threatening and violent behaviour.

Below are some tips for deescalating the situation while you find a way to manage or escape it.

  • Remember that any abusive behaviour is not about you, no matter how personal it feels.
  • Abusive behaviour reflects entirely on the perpetrator and the perpetrator only.
  • Always keep your phone charged and with you.
  • If there is a threat of violence, avoid places with potential weapons, such as the kitchen or garage.
  • Have an escape plan ready in case you need it. Find areas of the house you can go when the abuse becomes overwhelming. Avoid engaging where possible.
  • Agree a code word or phrase with trusted friends and family members – one that lets them know they need to call the police if you text or call them.
  • Keep an overnight bag packed for emergencies, whether in your home or with a trusted friend or family member.
  • Seek alternative accommodation for you and any children only when it’s safe to do so.
  • If your phone is being monitored, search for help and advice using ‘incognito’ on Google or ‘private’ on safari, which erases all history of your searches once you close a website. 

If you need to escape – there’s UK-wide support available

Boots offers safe space for domestic abuse victims. People living with domestic abuse will be able to access safe spaces at Boots pharmacies. Those needing help can ask staff at the counter to use the consultation room, where they will be able to contact services for help and advice

Domestic abuse charities like Refuge are ensuring accommodation is made available for anyone who needs to flee. Remember you’re not alone. There is support and safety waiting for you whenever you need it. www.refuge.co.uk

There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the greater need for housing when it comes to those fleeing domestic violence. Hotel chains like Accor have opened their doors and welcomed victims from across the UK, and in response, the government has been asked to subsidise the costs to hotel chains, including the free meals offered to victims who often turn up with no financial means. 

As the outpouring of support for frontline workers during a time of crisis has been overwhelming, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, asked the nation to ‘use that amazing compassion and community sprit to embrace those trapped in a horrific cycle of abuse.’ In response, a coalition of women’s charities signed a letter to Patel that said: ‘We believe that the offer made by the hotels represents a vital opportunity for the government to work with the women’s sector and with hotels to deliver a national action plan on VAWG and Covid-19. As of today, hotels and specialist services are ready to support abused women and children. We are waiting for the government to play its part.’

The Home Office began publishing adverts to raise awareness of the rise in domestic abuse figures, highlighting where victims can seek safety and support. As well as working with charities and the domestic abuse commissioner to provide an additional £2m to maintain helplines and bolster online resources during Covid-19, on the 4th of May, the government announced a new £76 million fund to support the ‘most vulnerable’ during the pandemic, which includes those escaping from domestic abuse who are now put forward for priority housing4.

References
1. The Guardian. Domestic violence surges
700 percent in the UK. Source article: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/apr/12/domestic-violence-surges-seven-hundred-per-cent-uk-coronavirus
2. Open Democracy. Covid-19 domestic
violence crisis UK. Source article: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/covid-19-domestic-violence-crisis-uk-decade-making/
3. Sky.com. Domestic abuse arrests in
London in just six weeks. Source article: https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-4-000-domestic-abuse-arrests-in-london-in-just-six-weeks-police-say-11978358
4. Gov.uk. Support for domestic abuse
victims. Source article: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-secretary-announces-support-for-domestic-abuse-victims

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