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Coronavirus and Domestic Abuse: Reducing the Risk to Survivors

COvid19_Survivor Messages
Posted on

Anyone in immediate danger should call 999

Even if they are self-isolating.

 

Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviour intended to dominate, threaten, coerce and control a current partner, ex-partner or family member. Domestic abuse is not only about violence and physical harm. It can include emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse. Behaviours used to perpetrate domestic abuse often escalate over time.

While Coronavirus does not directly cause domestic abuse, current measures being put in place to control Coronavirus may result in perpetrators having more opportunity to perpetrate abuse, changing the way they perpetrate, and using the virus as an excuse. There are lots of possible reasons for this but the main ones to be aware of are:

  • COVID-19 Measures: Can increase the amount of time the survivor and person perpetrating the abuse are alone together and increase barriers to survivors accessing outside support. 
  • Financial impacts: Loss or reduction in a survivor’s economic independence may also contribute to the escalation of abuse, and remove resources needed to leave the abuse. 

There are things that can be done now to reduce the risk to survivors of domestic abuse during this time. Become familiar with the below information and share this widely where you can. This information may increase some survivors’ chances of avoiding self-isolation with their abuser. For others, there is useful safety planning information.

Please be aware this information is more relevant to those living in Nottingham/shire but may also be useful to those outside of this location.

 

Useful Information for Reducing Additional Risks to Survivors of Domestic Abuse as a Result of Coronavirus

 

 

1) Save Information about Local Support Services:

Find information about local services for domestic abuse. If you feel you or someone you know is at risk, save the relevant contact information somewhere the person using abusive behaviour is unlikely to locate it. It will also help to share these on your social media and elsewhere within your community.

Nottingham Support Services:

*Guidance for seeking support via email: 

  • Delete emails/search history
  • Check spam folder for email replies.
  • Responses can take up to 3 working days
  • Always call 999 in an emergency.

 

National Support Service Information:

  • If you are a woman experiencing domestic abuse: 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
  • If you are a child or young person experiencing domestic abuse: Childline 0800 1111
  • If you are a man experiencing domestic abuse: Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327

National Online Support Services:

 

Anyone in immediate danger should call 999, Even if they are self-isolating.

 

2) Understand Government Guidance and Legislation:

Survivors of Domestic Abuse are exempt from the Government regulations on leaving or moving between households(View the legislation here) Survivors should contact domestic abuse support services for assistance in leaving as leaving a relationship without essential safety planning can be very dangerous.  

Some survivors may not wish to leave the household. However, some perpetrators of domestic abuse may deliberately try to confuse understanding about self-isolation in order to isolate a survivor unnecessarily. Therefore, it is important to be crystal clear on the current government guidance: 

Isolation 

Do you have any symptoms of Coronavirus? 

  • NO: You do not need to self-isolate unless you live with someone who has symptoms.  
  • YES: If you live alone you are required to self-Isolate for 7 days. 
    If you live with others, everyone in the home needs to self-isolate for 2 weeks.   However, Survivors of domestic abuse are exempt from these coronavirus regulations on leaving or moving between households. 

Have you been in contact with someone who is displaying symptoms?  

  • NO: You do not have to self-isolate. Keeping social contact to a minimum is advisable.  
  • YES: Entire households are required to self-isolate for 2 weeks once 1 person living in the household displays symptoms. You do not have to self-isolate unless you are living with someone displaying symptoms. Remember, Survivors of domestic abuse are exempt from these coronavirus regulations on leaving or moving between households. 

Other Government Measures to Contain COVID-19 

The government is encouraging people to leave their households as little as possible with the following exceptions 

  • To buy essentials, as infrequently as possible. 
  • To go outdoors for exercise. This may be multiple times a day.
  • If you are unable to work from home. 
  • You may meet one other person outside of your household. This must take place outdoors, ensuring you do not gather in groups of more than two.

 We recommend keeping up to date with government advice on this website: www.gov.uk/coronavirus 

 

3) How to Access Support:

While most people are now following the guidance to leave their homes as little as possible, some survivors may be able to access support while shopping for essentials, at health appointments, exercising outdoors or attending work. Ways that survivors may be able to seek support during these times include: 

  • Opportunity to call support services, friends or meet with one trusted friend or family member. 
  • Send an email if you don’t have long to talk. 
  • Disclose to others. This could be friendscolleagues, managers, your GP, Pharmacist, Police or Community Protection Officers for example.  
  • Ask neighbours to call the police if they hear a disturbance 
  • Drop a note to a trusted person asking them to contact support services on their behalf. 
  • Teach children to dial 999 in an emergency.

Anyone in immediate danger should call 999 in an emergency, even if they are self-isolating.
If you are unable to speak, there are solutions are in place to help.  

 If you can, call by landline. That way your call can be traced to your locationHere’s what to do: 

  • Tap your handset so the operator knows someone is there 
  • The operator will connect you to the police if you don’t respond 
  • They may ask yes and no questions – respond quietly if you can 
  • If you are not able to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so they can assess your call and arrange help. 
  • If you replace the handset, the call will remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick it up.  

 What to do if you call from a mobile 

  • Once the call is connected to an operator dial 55 
  • You’ll be connected to the police 
  • They will ask Yes and No questions – respond quietly if you can 
  • If you are not able to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so they can assess your call and arrange help.

 

4) Safety Planning Information:

Unfortunately for some survivors who need to self-isolate, it will not be possible to Self- Isolate away from their abuser. The Women’s Aid Survivor Handbook contains useful information and guidance on safety planning for adults and children. The information in this handbook is relevant to all survivors of domestic abuse and specific guidance for male survivors can be found here. Common guidance may include keeping your phone fully charged and identifying safe places in the home.

Helpful guidance includes: 

  • Keep your phone fully charged so you are able to call for help at any time.
  • Save phone support service contact information.
  • Identify safe spaces in the home
  • Avoid areas of the home where there are often dangerous items, such as the kitchen, bathroom or garage. 
  • Pack a bag so you are able to leave quickly in an emergency – this should include important documents like your passport if possible.  
  • Identify safe places outside of the home that are still open and would be safe to go in an emergency – police, local stores, pharmacy etc. 
  • Rehearsan escape plan  
  • Teach children to call 999 – including what to do if it is not safe to speak. 
  • Ask neighbours to call if they hear a disturbance.  
  • If you have a smartphone, download the Bright Sky App for useful safety and support information.

Understanding government guidance on co-isolation my also be useful. Advice such as not using the kitchen and bathroom together, for example, may be helpful. These are areas of the home that are often identified as the most dangerous.

 

5) What to do if you’re worried about someone else:

If you know a survivor who is self-isolating check with them how you can stay in contact safely via phone, text, social media, email or otherwise. This may help to reduce the emotional distress they experience as a result of the abuse and help them to feel less isolated, trapped and alone. However, you need to be aware that their contact with you may be being monitored by the person perpetrating the abuse.

You can also find useful information about how to help someone else here http://www.equation.org.uk/help-someone/

Call the professionals for advice and support

They can give you specialist support and practical ways to help your friend in their unique situation.

For advice about a female friend living in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, you can contact the Juno Women’s Aid free and 24/7 helpline:

  • Phone: 0808 800 0340

For advice about a female friend living outside of Nottinghamshire, you can contact Refuge’s national, free and 24/7 helpline for advice and be directed to your local service:

  • Phone: 0808 2000 247

For advice about how to support a man experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the national and free Men’s Advice Line (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm), run by Respect: 

  • Phone: 0808 8010327

Remember that it isn’t on you to stop the abuse. Your love and support will go a long way. Look after yourself too.

 

6) Information for Employers:

Employers should be demonstrating duty of care to their employees by ensuring they have regular contact from either a manager or colleagues during COVID-19. This is advisable for all employees to assist with the impacts of Coronavirus on employee wellbeing. It will also provide employees experiencing domestic abuse with a vital opportunity to reach out for help.  Safety and Local Support information (Equation.org.uk/need-help ) should also be shared with all employees.

 

7) Learn the Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse:

It is quite likely that survivors experiencing the earlier stages of domestic abuse may not yet have identified that the behaviour is abusive. Because Coronavirus can cause abuse to escalate more rapidly, we advise becoming familiar with (and sharing) the warning signs of abuse. Helping those experiencing abuse to identify abusive behaviour now will help them to consider if they can plan for self-isolating away from the person using abusive behaviours, and/or take measures to protect their financial independence.

 

Equation will be posting regularly about information to keep survivors safe during the Coronavirus outbreak on our social media. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and share posts which may be useful to people in your networks.

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