The current advice on social distancing will have a direct impact on those experiencing domestic abuse and can be used as tool of coercive and controlling behaviour.
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
You are not alone
You are not alone. Please speak to someone if you are concerned for your own safety. Your call will be treated in the strictest confidence.
At this challenging time it is also essential that we safeguard our family and friends along with those in our local communities who could be at risk.
In an emergency
In an emergency call 999 and ask for the police. If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999, and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.
This poster, produced by Dorset Police, lists national and local helplines for you to contact if you have any concerns.
You can find specific COVID-19 safety and support resources for both survivors and friends, family, neighbours and community members at womens aid. These resources are available in 15 different languages and British Sign Language.
The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare’s Law)
Commonly known as Clare’s Law, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) is named after Clare Wood who was murdered in 2009 by her boyfriend.
The DVDS gives members of the public a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent towards their partner.
Anybody can make an enquiry, but information is only given to someone at risk or a person who is in a position to safeguard the victim.
The scheme is for anyone in an intimate relationship regardless of gender.
The intention is to give potential victims information about the history of their partner, so they can make an informed decision about the relationship.
Find out more about Clare’s Law on the Dorset Police website.
Advice for the public
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 Home Office has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the dedicated support available. The campaign highlights that isolation rules do not apply in the case of domestic abuse and that police response and support services remain available.
The Home Office is promoting the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline number is 0808 2000 247 and associated online support available at nationaldahelpline.org.uk.
As part of the 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 web chat service is available.