Getting help and support for domestic violence during the lockdown period
WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE CONCERNED ABOUT SOMEONE SUFFERING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OR ABUSE DURING LOCKDOWN
There is some useful advice below from the Charity 'Refuge'
If you are concerned about someone you know, call the Freephone 24h National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. Or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk to use there contact form for a call back from one of the Helpline staff. They can offer you confidential support on how best to help the person you are worried about. If you are worried about their safety, call 999.
'Do not approach the perpetrator, as this could escalate the abuse and put you and the victim at risk of harm.'
WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE SUFFERING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE DURING LOCKDOWN
'If your partner becomes violent, try to avoid the kitchen, garage or anywhere that might have potential weapons.
'Try to keep your mobile charged and on you at all times. Agree on a code word with trusted friends or family so that they can call the police if you text or call them. For instance, you could agree that a certain word or a blank text means you need the police urgently. If your neighbours are aware of the situation, let them know that they should call the police if they hear a disturbance.
'If you have children, talk to them about where they can go to keep safe if the perpetrator becomes abusive. Emphasise that in this situation their priority is to get to safety first and then call for help. Tell them not to intervene as this could put them in further danger.
Refuge has further advice on how to leave an abusive partner during lockdown on their website – along with this reminder for anyone suffering domestic violence or abuse right now:
'Abuse is not your fault. It is a choice that a perpetrator makes; your partner is responsible for his violent and abusive behaviour. It is a choice he makes and he alone is responsible for changing this behaviour.
'Domestic abuse is a crime and help is available. Do not suffer alone. Refuge is here for you. Pick up the phone, or if you are unable to do that, access us online. We stand with you today, tomorrow, and in the future. You are not alone.'
Domestic violence or abuse can happen to anyone. Find out how to recognise the signs and where to get help. 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.
You do not have to wait for an emergency situation to find help. If domestic abuse is happening to you, it's important to tell someone and remember you're not alone.
talk to a doctor, health visitor or midwife
women can call The Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge on 0808 2000 247 for free at any time, day or night. The staff will offer confidential, non-judgemental information and support
men can call Men's Life Advice on 0808 8010 327 (Monday and Wednesday, 9am to 8pm, and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9am to 5pm) for non-judgemental information and support
men can also call ManKind on 0182 3334 244 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm)
If you identify as LGBT+ you can call Galop on 0800 999 5428 for emotional and practical support
anyone can call Karma Nirvana on 0800 5999 247 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) for forced marriage and honour crimes. You can also call 020 7008 0151 to speak to the GOV.UK Forced Marriage Unit
in an emergency, call 999
You can also email for support. It is important that you specify when and if it is safe to respond and to which email address:
women can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff will respond to your email within 5 working days
men can email email@example.com
LGBT+ people can email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Survivor's Handbook from the charity Women's Aid is free and provides information for women on a wide range of issues, such as housing, money, helping your children, and your legal rights.
If you are worried that you are abusive, you can contact the free Respect helpline on 0808 802 4040.
Signs of Domestic Violence and Abuse
There are different kinds of abuse, but it's always about having power and control over you.
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive relationship.
Does your partner ever:
- belittle you, or put you down?
- blame you for the abuse or arguments?
- deny that abuse is happening, or downplay it?
- 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?
- monitor your social media profiles, share photos or videos of you without your consent or use GPS locators to know where you are?
Threats and Intimidation
Does your partner 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?
The person abusing you may hurt you in a number of ways.
Does your partner ever:
- slap, hit or punch you?
- push or shove you?
- bite or kick you?
- burn you?
- choke you or hold you down?
- throw things?
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone.
Does your partner ever:
touch you in a way you do not want to be touched?
make unwanted sexual demands?
hurt you during sex?
pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?
pressure you to have sex?
If your partner has sex with you when you do not want to, this is rape.
Have you ever felt afraid of your partner?
Have you ever changed your behaviour because you're afraid of what your partner might do?
If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, there are lots of people who can help you.
1 in 3 cases of domestic violence and abuse against women starts during pregnancy. If the relationship is already abusive, it can get worse.
Find out more about domestic abuse in pregnancy.
If you decide to leave
The first step in escaping an abusive situation is realising that you're not alone and it's not your fault.
Before you go, try to get advice from an organisation such as:
If you're considering leaving, be careful who you tell. It's important your partner does not know where you're going.
Women's Aid has useful information about making a safety plan that applies to both women and men, including advice if you decide to leave.
Helping a friend if they're being abused
If you're worried a friend is being abused, let them know you've noticed something is wrong.
They might not be ready to talk, but try to find quiet times when they can talk if they choose to.
If someone confides in you that they're suffering domestic abuse:
listen, and take care not to blame them
acknowledge it takes strength to talk to someone about experiencing abuse
give them time to talk, but do not push them to talk if they do not want to
acknowledge they're in a frightening and difficult situation
tell them nobody deserves to be threatened or beaten, despite what the abuser has said
support them as a friend, encourage them to express their feelings, and allow them to make their own decisions
do not tell them to leave the relationship if they're not ready – that's their decision
ask if they have suffered physical harm and if they have, offer to go with them to a hospital or GP
help them report the assault to the police if they choose to
be ready to provide information about organisations that offer help for people experiencing domestic abuse
Further Advice and guidance can be found COVID-19-Domestic-Abuse-Information.docx, this document includes useful links to helplines and places of further information.
Trapped in lockdown with an abuser? Rights of Women advice on your legal options. Watch this great and simple video that explains your rights.