Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members. Domestic violence can happen against anyone, and anybody can be an abuser. During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic abuse charities and other organisations are reporting an increase in cases:
- General online domestic abuse searches have increased by 352.5%
- Support lines and web chat activity has increased by 53.9% and 70.4% respectively.
- There has been a substantial rise in self-referrals to ChildLine
- An increase of up to 50% in Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) domestic abuse referrals
The Home Office have launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the dedicated support available. The campaign will highlight that isolation rules do not apply in the case of domestic abuse and that police response and support services remain available.
Liz Cox, Safeguarding Manager at Livewell Southwest, said: “We know that this is a difficult and worrying time for everyone, but particularly so for adults and children living with abuse, and the professionals working hard to support them.
“COVID-19 may present perpetrators of abuse and intimate terrorism with new opportunities to exert control and coercive behaviours, and it is important to seek help and advice to keep yourself safe.
“Please use the links and contact numbers provided to talk to someone – if it is an emergency or you are in imminent danger please call 999.”
Where to get support
The NHS website has advice online for the public on spotting the signs for domestic abuse and domestic violence and where to go for help. The NHS also has a help page for those who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
The freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline number is 0808 2000 247 and associated online support is also available at nationaldahelpline.org.uk.
As part of their campaign, the Home Office has produced detailed advice for those experiencing domestic abuse and domestic violence.
In addition, Respect is an anonymous and confidential helpline for men and women who are harming their partners and families. The helpline also takes calls from partners or ex-partners, friends and relatives who are concerned about perpetrators. A webchat service is available.