Evidence from domestic abuse charities has indicated that incidents of domestic abuse have increased significantly during the coronavirus lockdown. This is worrying to think as many victims are isolated at home with their perpetrators and are unable to access the help, or support they need.
Domestic abuse killings double the national average
According to one report, calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline rose by 49%, and killings doubled after just the first three weeks in lockdown. Research states that 14 women and two children have been killed in this time, which is the largest number of domestic abuse killings in a three-week period for 11 years, and more than double the national average. It was also reported that there had been a 35% rise in calls from male victims of abuse to the Men’s Advice Line.
Sandra Horley, chief executive of the charity Refuge, said: “many perpetrators already use isolation as a tool of control” and usual escape routes like the school run, or going to the shops, have been cut off due to the lockdown.
She went on to say that 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. In the current climate, it is certainly more challenging for women suffering abuse. Lines of communication could be severely limited if women are unable to leave the home.”
Another effect of the lockdown is that there may be less chance for a victim to make an emergency call for help if they are locked in a house with their abuser. In these cases, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline offers the option of contacting them through its website, with a quick exit button which ensures that no record of the call is left on your phone.
15 million more cases of domestic abuse worldwide
According to new data published by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), there will be at least 15 million more cases of domestic abuse around the world this year as a result of the pandemic restrictions. The figures concluded there would be a 20% increase in violence during an average three-month lockdown in all 193 UN member states, taking into account the high levels of under-reported cases.
Domestic abuse statistics
Domestic abuse is a largely hidden crime, occurring primarily in the home. It is a very common crime; however, it is difficult to accurately quantify because people often don’t report or disclose domestic abuse to the police or in surveys. According to Women’s Aid, data from the Crime Survey of England and Wales offers the best estimate, with data showing that 7.9% (1.3 million) of women experienced some form of domestic abuse in 2018, and an estimated 28.9% of women aged 16-59 have experienced some form of domestic abuse since they turned 16. According to CSEW data, only 18% of women who had experienced partner abuse in 2018 actually reported it to the police, implying the actual figures could be much higher.
HMIC report that, on average, police in England and Wales receive over 100 calls an hour relating to domestic abuse, and domestic violence makes up around 16% of all violent crime. Police are trying to make it clear that women and men who are facing abuse at home during lockdown should still report it to the police and seek support if they need it.
What to do if you are suffering domestic abuse in lockdown
If you, or your children, are at risk of domestic abuse it is important to remember you can leave your home to seek safety elsewhere. The government regulations have made clear that if you need to escape an abusive situation, it is acceptable for a person to leave their home.
If you are in immediate danger, you should contact the emergency services on 999, press 55 when prompted if you can’t speak. There are also a number of domestic abuse helplines who are available to offer support if you need it during the crisis. These include:
- The National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 200 247 – open 24 hours free of charge.
- Women’s Aid – use their online instant messaging service or send them an email.
- Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327.
- Merseyside Domestic Violence Services call in confidence on 07780948890.
If you are suffering from domestic abuse and need help contact HNK Solicitors on 0151 668 0812 or email us at email@example.com, and we can refer you onto charities who can assist you or put you in contact with shelters who can offer you a place to stay if you need to leave your home.