In this week’s blog, our CEO discusses the impact of Domestic Abuse during lockdown
An investigation by Panorama and Women’s Aid into the impact of Domestic Abuse during lockdown has just been released and was screened last Monday night. The results are nothing short of terrifying.
The implementation of lockdown was very necessary for wider public safety but the spike in domestic abuse was a predictable outcome for those already in abusive or precarious situations. Figures are constantly being updated, but there was a call to the police every 30 seconds about domestic abuse for the first 7 weeks of lockdown. Women talked in the programme about how the second they heard the message about lockdown they knew they would die if they stayed, that it would be ‘the last day I see daylight’. Other helplines have also seen massive increases, Men’s helplines have shown a 65% increase and LGBT+ lines have shown a 50% increase.
Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult at any time but during lockdown has been an increased challenge, partially because of the reduced refuge spaces (staff sickness, social distancing, lack of PPE etc.) and partially because of the difficultly of moving victims on under lockdown. When surveyed, 3 out of 4 victims said it was harder to escape and 2 out of 3 victims said abuse had worsened.
It was 19 days between lockdown being announced and measures to support domestic abuse services being announced. The government announced £2million for Domestic Abuse Helplines and introduced a media campaign encouraging people to report Domestic Abuse. In just those 19 days 11 women, 2 children and 1 man were murdered. Those shocking figures are the highest they’ve been for 11 years.
During the programme presenter Victoria Derbyshire bravely shared her own experiences of living in an abusive household as a child, also reminding us of the profound impact domestic abuse has on children in a home. There are studies on the impact of exposure to violence on children’s development, causing increases in aggression, mental health needs, engagement with the criminal justice system and substance misuse.
Another issue with helping and accessing support is the recognition of what constitutes abuse. There are many people in physically violent relationships but abuse extends far beyond this, encompassing sexual abuse, emotional & psychological abuse, financial abuse and coercive control. If you feel scared or intimidated in your own home because of the actions or behaviour of someone you live with or someone you are (or were) in a relationship with then it is abuse. Talking to someone really can help. There are a number of helplines available in England:
• The National Domestic Abuse Helpline (24 hour): 0808 2000 247
• Men’s Advice Line (9am-5pm Monday to Friday): 0808 801 0327
• National LGBT Domestic Violence Helpline: 0800 999 5428
• Victim Support (24 hour): 0808 16 89 111
• Respect Phone line (for perpetrators): 0808 802 4040
In an emergency ALWAYS call 999 and if you are unable to talk press 55 after dialling.
If any employee finds themselves in a position where they need advice, guidance or support then they should call one of the helplines above, call our Personnel Team (0161 236 0829) or contact our confidential Employee Assistance Programme (Helpline: 0800 030 5182 / Smartphone App: Health e-hub / Website: healthassuredeap.com). We are here for you and can help put in place measures to help you to leave. You are not alone.
If you are concerned for someone in your team, whether a manager or peer, then please talk to either your manager or the Personnel Team.
With local lockdowns in place in certain areas and further lockdowns likely, it’s more important than ever that we are vigilant to keep our service users, family, friends and colleagues safe.