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Monday, April 06, 2020

Lockdown sees rise in domestic abuse calls

The BBC report that National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since the lockdown. Refuge, the charity which runs the helpline has said that it received hundreds more calls last week compared to two weeks earlier:

Campaigners have warned the restrictions could heighten domestic tensions and cut off escape routes.

The charity said pressure on other services and awareness campaigns could have also led to the increase.

One woman, who fled her abuser a few days ago, told the BBC life had become intolerable since the lockdown started.

'Tara', who asked the BBC not to use her real name, said she had been suffering mental and physical abuse from her partner for six months.

When the lockdown began things became markedly worse.

To start with the abuse was subtle: "Isolating me from my family and friends… thinking I'm cheating on him when I'm with him all the time… just controlling".

Her abuser deleted her social media accounts and stopped her from seeing family.

She says he was "mentally abusive, verbally and obviously hitting me… recently it's obviously been getting worse, since the lockdown."

"It's been bad… I didn't care if I didn't wake up like from the night before... I just knew what was going to happen the next day, I just wanted the days to go past."

"As soon as he gets up, he tries to cause an argument out of nothing, and if I fire back he'll just hit me."

Tara has now fled to a refuge in Wales, and is being supported by Llamau, a charity for young people and vulnerable women.

Another high-profile campaigner, Rachel Williams, believes domestic violence and potentially homicides will escalate as social distancing restrictions in the UK continue.

Many perpetrators already use isolation "as a tool of control" Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge said.

She said last year 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse, and "while in lockdown or self-isolation, women and children are likely to be spending concentrated periods of time with perpetrators, potentially escalating the threat of domestic abuse and further restricting their freedom.

"Domestic abuse isn't always physical - it's a pattern of controlling, threatening and coercive behaviour, which can also be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual."

This is going to be a major problem with the lockdown and could see a rise in violence against women in particular.  I would hope that government will recognise this and provide additional funding to beef up support services and refuges.
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