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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:

  • Self-Isolation: 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

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.

 

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 numbers somewhere the person using abusive behaviour is unlikely to locate them. It will also help to share these on your social media and elsewhere within your community.

 

Nottingham Support Services:

 

  • If you are a woman experiencing domestic abuse: local 24-hours domestic abuse helpline 0808 800 0340
  • If you are a man experiencing domestic abuse: Equation’s Domestic Abuse Service for Men 0115 960 5556
  • All local services for Nottingham/shire can be found here: Equation.org.uk/need-help

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

 

Understand the Government Guidance on Isolation:

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 for self-isolation to empower survivors to know when self-isolation is not mandatory.

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.

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

  • NO: You do not have to self-isolate. Keeping face to face contact with others 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. You may also need to consider the safest places for you to self-isolate should you develop symptoms.

As advice on Isolation may change, we recommend keeping up to date with government advice on this website: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

 

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.

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.

 

Information for Employers:

As an employer, you may require certain employees to self-isolate or work from home to protect other members of staff. However, you need to consider the risks of requesting self-isolation and working from home, especially if any individual would not otherwise be required to self-isolate. At the very least, employers should allow an opportunity for employees to discreetly disclose abuse that they or a colleague are experiencing. Safety and Local Support information (Equation.org.uk/need-help ) should also be shared with all employees.

 

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/

And, if the person you are worried about is either female or under 16, you can call the local domestic abuse helpline run by JUNO women’s aid for confidential advice on 0808 800 0340.

 

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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