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Support for victims of domestic abuse in lockdown

Local organisations have shared advice for those who are not safe at home.

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 1:32pm 14th April 2020. (Updated at 3:10pm 14th April 2020) 4-minute read.

Support for victims of domestic abuse in lockdown

Support and advice is being given to victims of domestic abuse during the coronavirus lockdown. 

National and local organisations, including here in Buckinghamshire, have been sharing advice and offering support to those at risk of domestic abuse at this time. 

Lockdown can be difficult for many, but for those who are in an unsafe home environment staying home is dangerous.

Aylesbury's Women Aid (AWA) is a local group that supports women and children at risk of abuse, as well as men who are classed as at medium or high risk.

April, Director of Services at AWA, told Mix96 it is important to acknowledge the different forms domestic abuse can take: 

"I think it is absolutely vital for people to recognise the different levels of abuse and that it isn't just physical.

"There is a lot of emotional abuse in domestic abuse and it often starts with emotional abuse... But we also have sexual abuse, financial abuse and coercive control as well.

"It is vital people recognise this and it may be happening to a neighbour. If they hear or see anything they're not comfortable with that they inform someone [from a support service/organisation] of that."

Although the lockdown restrictions limit movement, the Government have clarified this does not apply to those in unsafe home environments and those in this category are encouraged to relocate to a safe environment and seek help/advice.

The UK's largest domestic abuse charity Refuge, has reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day. 

While their separate helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse looking to change their behaviour has risen by 25%. 

April explained that understanding the reasons behind domestic abuse is important, especially now:

"We need to appreciate domestic violence does not happen because of stress. It happens because the perpetrator wants to maintain power and control over their victim.

"The situation we are finding ourselves in during lockdown could exacerbate that problem [stress] but it wouldn't be the cause. Victims need to understand and appreciate that what is happening to them is domestic violence and they shouldn't brush it off with 'We are under an immense amount of stress'. 

"If it's happening we need to recognise it is happening, stop making excuses for it happening and start taking action."

As well as AWA, Thames Valley Police have shared information and support for victims.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber said:

“Home does not feel like a safe place for victims of domestic abuse and in these uncertain times, I would like to assure victims that support through Victims First and other contracted service providers is available for those that need it.  Services have been adapted in line with Government advice to ensure that we can continue to meet victims’ needs.

“Anyone experiencing domestic abuse and needing support can contact one of the Thames Valley domestic abuse services directly or can make an online referral to Victims First via our website

The Home Office have launched a campaign to encourage the public to show solidarity for victims and those at risk, which has prompted the social media hashtag #YouAreNotAlone.

April wants victims to know although services may have adjusted they are still there for victims and those at risk:

"It is vital that people contact someone if they are experiencing it and if you know someone that is experiencing it you can contact us for advice, but confronting the situation yourself is not advised.

"We are continuing to offer support and advice, unfortunately we cannot do face to face but we are continuing our phone, email and website support.

"The message we need to get out there is you do not need to remain in the property. You can contact the police, you can contact AWA and we can help remove you from that situation."

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