COVID-19 & Domestic Abuse
The topic on everybody’s lips right now is, of course, Corona Virus. Globally, cities, villages and towns have now gone into complete lockdown, meaning we can only leave our homes if absolutely necessary. Despite the fact that these strict rules are small measures to keep us all safe. This can be frustrating for most of us - although I personally know a few introverts that are living their dreams at home.
For the majority of us, not going to our favourite salons, cafes, bars, pubs, restaurants and gyms have been a real downer. However, millions of people across the world are doing our best to stay busy and taking this time to chill out and relax in our own personal bubbles, with loved ones, pets, friends, family, babies. Catching up on our favourite series and re-reading our favourite novels, or maybe finally getting round to learning a new skill or cleaning out those boxes you’ve had stuffed under your bed for the last 3 years.
For most of us, our biggest challenge is staying active mentally and physically. Sadly though, the concept that staying home equates to staying safe is not a reality for us all. For victims of domestic abuse, extra time at home can not only be particularly terrifying, at this time It can prove detrimental. Abuse and violence have unfortunately been at its highest in a long while.
Although it is especially difficult to determine the accurate statistics of domestic violence, due to the reluctancy most people have to report abuse, survivors and activists say they have already noticed an alarming rise in domestic violence cases.
It was reported in the Guardian that ‘At least 16 suspected domestic abuse killings in the UK have been identified by campaigners since the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were imposed, far higher than the average rate for the time of year, it has emerged.’
Amid this time of social distancing, fear, and hysteria, it is important to be aware of each other, and look out for each other. Some of the most vulnerable people are at their most vulnerable during these times. Awareness is an incredibly important part of overcoming abuse. Experts say the first place you should look is at home. This may even mean looking internally and within your own households, neighborhoods and friendship groups. Abuse comes in a variety of forms and develops in a number of situations or relationships.
There are different kinds of abuse that can happen in different contexts. This being said, the most prevalent type of domestic abuse occurs in romantic relationships. However, the definition of domestic abuse covers abuse within the family and may be but is not exclusive to child abuse. It is important to say that anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.
Gov.uk ha offered advice on highlighting the types of abuse people may be facing. Not dissimilar to Covid-19, It’s important to know the signs and catch them early - The below identifies systems of domestic abuse in relationships and how you can recognise it:
1. Emotional abuse
Does anyone ever:
belittle you, or put you down?
blame you for the abuse or arguments?
deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
isolate you from your family and friends?
stop you going to college or work?
make unreasonable demands for your attention?
accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things?
2. Threats and intimidation
Does anyone ever:
threaten to hurt or kill you?
destroy things that belong to you?
stand over you, invade your personal space?
threaten to kill themselves or the children?
read your emails, texts or letters?
harass or follow you?
3. Physical abuse
Does anyone ever:
slap, hit or punch you?
push or shove you?
bite or kick you?
choke you or hold you down?
4. Sexual abuse
Does anyone ever:
touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched?
make unwanted sexual demands?
hurt you during sex? - without consent
pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?
pressure you to have sex?
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive relationship.
We must make it a priority to support every and anyone that may think they are a victim of abuse. Abuse does not discriminate and can affect literally anyone. One of the most powerful things you can do for a victim of abuse is to believe them.
For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, remember that there is help and support available to you, including police response, online support, helplines, immigration help and other services. All these services are still 100% up and running and available to anyone that needs it.
If you feel you are in immediate danger call 999.
Other Confidential Helplines
Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge 0808 200 0247 www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) 0800 999 5428 www.galop.org.uk
Live Fear Free helpline (Wales) 0808 80 10 800 www.livefearfree.gov.wales
Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327 www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Rape Crisis (England and Wales) 0808 802 9999 www.rapecrisis.org.uk
Respect phone line 0808 802 4040 www.respectphoneline.org.uk
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline 0800 027 1234 sdafmh.org.uk
Scottish Women’s Aid 0131 226 6606 www.scottishwomensaid.org.uk
Women’s Aid Federation (Northern Ireland) 0800 917 1414 www.womensaidni.org
18 and Under
0800 731 4080