Impact of Covid-19 on Victims of Domestic Abuse – Summary of Facts
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and in particular during the first weeks of lockdown, organisations like Welsh Women’s Aid and Calan DVS immediately began to discuss and prepare for an increase in the number of domestic violence cases likely to be reported once restrictions started to lift.
This issue was highlighted recently in the BBC Panorama programme entitled ‘Escaping my Abuser’. In this programme, Panorama investigates what the ‘Stay at Home’ pandemic rule meant for those trapped with an abusive partner. Reporter Victoria Derbyshire, a strong advocate of the fight against domestic abuse who grew up with a violent father, revealed the scale of domestic violence at the height of the crisis and met some of those who managed to escape during lockdown. (See programme here).
Media articles published shortly after the UK went into full lockdown, reported that domestic abuse murders ‘more than doubled in three weeks leaving 16 women and children dead’.
The Wales Live Fear Free helpline saw a 49% increase in the number of calls during this time, which also served to highlight the desperate situation for many women, men and children as a result of measures put in place to deal with the pandemic.
A Perfect Storm
Earlier this month, national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid released a new report: A Perfect Storm – The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic abuse survivors and the services supporting them.
Some of the key statistics which have emerged from this report from interviews with victims include:
- In April, during the height of the lockdown, over three quarters (78%) of women experiencing abuse at that time said they thought Covid-19 made it harder for them to escape abuse. This was still a significant problem in June, despite an easing in lockdown measures.
- Of women living with their abuser during lockdown, 61% said the abuse had worsened. More than two-thirds (68%) said they felt they had no one to turn to during lockdown.
- Over a third (38%) said that their abuser had shown an increase in abusive behaviour towards the children.
- One in ten (10%) survivors revealed that their abuser had actively used lockdown restrictions to stop them from leaving.
- One-fifth (20.3%) said that they had tried to leave during the pandemic but had been unable to access housing or refuge space.
Domestic Abuse of Men and the LBGTQ Community
Importantly, it’s not only among women that domestic abuse organisations have seen an increase in the number of victims during lockdown.
The charity Mankind, which produced a report back in March prior to lockdown, has said they too are receiving more calls from men who are suffering from domestic abuse during lockdown.
Whilst the LGBT Foundation has also published a new research report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on LGBT communities in the UK. The findings focus on the impact of COVID-19 on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities and contains information for front-line staff to support the wider healthcare outcomes of LGBT patients during a period of strain across the NHS. Read more here.
Government Support – Covid-19
In April, the Home Office pledged £2million to bolster helplines and online support and another £28.8million for domestic violence charities in May.
Importantly, at the start of the pandemic, to support of victims of domestic violence and abuse, the Welsh Government’s Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Team launched the ‘Home shouldn’t be a place of fear’ campaign.
This campaign, which continues to be advertised on TV, radio and many online channels, aims to let those at risk of violence and domestic abuse know that help is available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the Live Fear Free helpline. Full details are available on the Welsh Government’s website here.
At Calan DVS, in addition to continuing to promote the National Live Fear Free helpline number across all our online platforms and local offices, during the coronavirus our front line staff have continued to deliver support services to victims of domestic abuse during these difficult times as follows:
- Safe, temporary accommodation across our 7 refuges in South, Mid and West Wales covering; Bridgend, Neath, Powys and Ammanford.
- Ongoing support for those who have escaped domestic abuse through phone support once they have left our refuge into permanent accommodation, including welfare and housing advice and guidance.
- Phone and online support and guidance for victims of domestic abuse getting in touch to find out what they can do to escape.
- Referrals of victims to other support agencies including housing, benefits, etc.
Going forward, now that restrictions have been substantially lifted, we are re-introducing our many of our community-based programmes aimed at women, men, children and families. You can see our full range of services on our website here or call one of our offices on the numbers below for information or support: