Dealing with domestic abuse during Covid-19

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline has reported a 25% increase in calls and online requests from people experiencing abuse since the COVID-19 lockdown began. Whether you’re experiencing abuse from your partner for the first time, or you’ve been living with abuse for many years, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and help is available.

Why is domestic abuse on the increase at this time?

Times of crisis and uncertainty bring an increase in violence and aggression, so it’s not surprising that incidents of domestic abuse are on the rise. For some people, the abuse is a new development in their relationship, while others are experiencing an increase in both the frequency and severity of already existing abuse.

As a result of the lockdown, some people are now also with the abuser 24 hours a day, and may be unable to leave the house and seek refuge with a friend or family member as they could have done in the past. Even if they are working outside of the home and away from the abuser for a portion of the day, they may be returning home to a partner who is using alcohol or drugs to cope with the stress of an uncertain future.

People have also lost daily, face-to-face contact with their neighbours and local friends – the very people on whom they’ve been able to rely for emotional and practical assistance in the past. With less support close to hand, many people are being exposed to their partner’s abusive behaviour in enclosed spaces without support, help and protection.

How to get help if you’re being abused

What is Bright Sky?

Bright Sky is a free app offering help and guidance to people living in a domestically abusive relationship, as well as those who care about them.

Please only download the Bright Sky app if it is safe to do so and you are sure that your mobile phone is not being monitored. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, contact 999 for help.

Available in English, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish, Bright Sky offers a UK-wide directory of specialist domestic abuse support services with contact details, along with links to other helpful resources and information on topics around domestic abuse such as stalking, online safety, and questionnaires to assess the safety of a relationship. It also allows the user to immediately connect with 999.

Bright Sky users can also use the app to record incidents of abuse via text, audio, video or photo form, without any of the content being saved on the device itself.

Bright Sky app

The Bright Sky app has been developed by Hestia and Vodafone Foundation.

View website for details on how to download

*retailTRUST accepts no liability whatsoever for the safety, reliability, durability and performance of the Bright Sky app.

At home shouldn’t mean at risk

As a result of COVID-19 and the impact of physical distancing on those suffering from abuse, the UK government has recently conceded that ‘at home shouldn’t mean at risk’. The police and other support services are available to anyone needing help. So, don’t worry that you’ll be fined or chastised if you’re outside of your home and heading to a place of refuge. You will be supported.

If you suspect that your partner is about to harm you, go to an area of the house where there is an exit. Avoid the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or other weapons, and rooms where you might be trapped, such as the bathroom. Leave the house as soon as you can and seek help. For this reason, it’s important to know exactly where your nearest police station is located.

How to contact the police if you’re in danger

It’s difficult – not to mention dangerous – to call for help in front of the person who is abusing you. If you find yourself in this position, there are two methods of contacting the police without having to speak. One is known as Silent Solution for mobile phones, and the other, Make Yourself Heard, is for landlines. It’s important to familiarise yourself with how these two systems can be used in an emergency.

Staying safe online

There are many websites that offer advice and support for people in domestically abusive relationships, but it’s not unusual for an abuser to monitor their partner’s browsing history. Women’s Aid offers guidance on how to stay safe online. It could save your life.

Finding help local to you

Remember – at home shouldn’t mean at risk. If at any point you feel unsafe in your home, it’s smart to leave and seek help immediately.

  • If you’re in immediate danger, contact 999.
  • If the abuser is out of the house and you feel safe doing so, contact one of the many resources we’ve listed at the end of this article.
  • If you’re able, leave the house and seek help at your local police station
  • Use the Women’s Aid live chat facility – you’ll be able to speak with a domestic abuse support worker who can guide you on what to do and where to go.
  • Find help local to you using the Women’s Aid online local services directory. Choose the area in which you want to access services, and you’ll be provided with contact details for support groups, refuges, counselling services, outreach workers and other help. Services are available in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. While COVID-19 means that some services are not available, such as face-to-face support groups, other arrangements have been made to meet your needs.

You might also find it helpful to look at our article on leaving an abusive relationship. Although you might not be ready or wanting to end the relationship – only you can decide when the time is right – this resource offers tips on staying safe.

Organisations which can help you 

Support for women

Refuge

 

refuge.org.uk

 

0808 2000 247

 

Available 24 hours a day

  • Confidential emotional support, advice and information for women experiencing domestic abuse
  • Community-based services such as outreach and child advocacy supporters.
  • Referrals to emergency accommodation and safe houses.
  • Local support groups and one-to-one counselling

Support for women

Women’s Aid

 

womensaid.org.uk

 

Online services only

  • Guidance and information for women of all ages experiencing domestic abuse.
  • Online local services locator for emergency accommodation and safe houses.
  • The Survivor’s Handbook.
  • Specialist COVID-19 advice.

Support for men

The Men’s Advice Line

 

mensadviceline.org.uk

 

0808 801 0327

 

  • Confidential helpline for men of all ages experiencing domestic abuse.
  • Local services locator for emergency accommodation, counselling and support groups.
  • Webchat and email are also available.

Support for men

ManKind

 

mankind.org.uk

 

01823 334 244

 

  • Confidential helpline for men of all ages experiencing domestic abuse.
  • Local services locator for emergency accommodation, counselling and support groups.
  • Webchat and email are also available.

Support for women affected by honour-based abuse

Karma Nirvana 

 

karmanirvana.org.uk

 

0800 5999 247

 

  • A confidential 24-hour helpline for anyone affected by honour-based abuse or forced marriage.
  • Advocacy programme to help affected women navigate the court system and other relevant bodies.

Support for the under 25s

The Mix

 

themix.org.uk

 

0808 808 4994

 

  • Confidential helpline offering emotional support and practical guidance for all aspects of wellbeing including domestic abuse.
  • Webchat facility and peer support forums.
  • Signposting to local services.
  • Guidance on a range of life issues including housing, childcare, financial wellbeing and mental health.

Support for people from the LGBTQIA community

GALOP

 

galop.org.uk/domesticabuse

 

0800 999 5428

 

  • Confidential helpline offering emotional support and practical guidance.
  • Trans-specific service for people coping with domestic abuse.
  • Guidance relevant to issues such as housing, how to report domestic abuse and financial issues.
  • Support accessing local services, including safe houses.

 

For anyone who is isolated and experiencing abuse of any kind

SupportLine

 

supportline.org.uk

 

01708 765 200

 

  • Confidential helpline offering emotional support for anyone who is isolated and experiencing violence, whether from their partner, a neighbour, a friend, a family member or another.

Rape and sexual assault

Rape Crisis

 

rapecrisis.org.uk

 

0808 802 9999

 

  • Free and confidential support for men and women affected – directly or indirectly – by rape and sexual assault.
  • Helpline, online advice and help with reporting sex crimes.
  • Access to local counselling services and support groups.