Back at the start of lockdown, I wrote a blog post about how we all had to be more vigilant in spotting the signs of domestic violence in our communities as there were substantial fears as to how lockdown would impact upon the victims of domestic abuse.
Unfortunately, a recent joint investigation by Panorama and Women’s Aid has discovered that these fears were correct. The research revealed that two thirds of women in abusive relationships suffered more violence from their partners during the pandemic. This is evidenced from police statistics, which showed that there was a call to them every 30 seconds claiming domestic abuse during the first seven weeks of lockdown. Three quarters of victims have also stated that lockdown made it far harder for them to escape their abusers.
It’s not just women who have been affected as the research revealed that calls to Respect Men’s Advice Line increased by 65% during the first three months of restrictions.
The sort of calls the police received included alleged various violent offences, such as kidnap, strangulation, arson, revenge porn, rape and poisoning. One victim, who was spoken to by the investigation team, claimed that her husband had raped her over 100 times during the lockdown period. She reported that her husband saw it as an open invitation to behave as he pleased towards her as he felt that no-one would know what he was doing. Many abusers used the lockdown as a means of controlling of their victim.
When lockdown was announced, many domestic abuse charities shared their fears and the government put £2million of additional funding in place and launched a nationwide social media campaign to raise awareness and to encourage people to report abuse.
Unfortunately for some victims, this was not enough and the abuse and fear have only intensified. During the three weeks that it took for the ‘You Are Not Alone’ campaign to be launched, 11 women, two children and one man were killed in alleged incidents of domestic abuse.
There are real concerns that if there is a second spike of the virus, and further local or national lockdowns are ordered, then more vulnerable people will be in danger. If these do happen then there clearly is a community obligation to try and support and help victims to try and escape their abusive situation.