Domestic Abuse in the Era of Covid-19

By Daisy Wigg

"For those experiencing domestic abuse, doing daily tasks provides some relief[...]But with none of these safe havens available, victims are forced to spend 24 hours a day trapped inside volatile and controlling environments."

Domestic abuse is a crime that often remains hidden in the privacy of the home, only surfacing when the victim finds refuge and escapes the hold of the abuser. However, because of the coronavirus lockdown when no one was allowed to leave their home or have the freedom of the outside, domestic abuse has become an even more isolating and intense issue.

There have been many consequences of coronavirus: unemployment, school closures, an increase in loneliness, and mental health issues. Further, the worldwide increase in domestic abuse has been described as a “shadow pandemic” by the UN. The UK alone has seen a 20% increase in domestic abuse reports during its lockdown.

In an April 2020 survey conducted by Women’s Aid, over two-thirds of survivors said that domestic abuse was escalating under lockdown and 72% said their abuser had more control over their life since Covid-19.

For those experiencing domestic abuse, going to school, to work, to the supermarket and doing other daily tasks provide some relief from the violence and emotional pain inflicted upon them by abusers. But with none of these safe havens available, victims are forced to spend 24 hours a day trapped inside volatile and controlling environments.

In another report conducted by Women’s Aid, one victim told them, “I am reliant upon my abuser to get food and medication as I am shielding for 12 weeks. This is being used against me.”

The inability to escape an abusive relationship has also been intensified, as one woman said, “I wanted to leave the relationship. However, since Covid-19 and the lockdown coming into effect, it has made it harder to leave. I am a keyworker who is around Covid positive patients, so I don’t feel like I can go home and stay with my parents.”

Many campaigns have been run in the last few months to help support victims of domestic abuse, such as the national campaign to recognise the clasped thumb signal over a video call. There is also a campaign run by To Be Heard, which enables someone to text or dial the police and report domestic abuse without having to speak.

The government announced a £76 million package in May, aimed to provide support to society's most vulnerable. These people include victims of domestic violence and modern slavery, rough sleepers and vulnerable children.

With life somewhat returning to normal, and services beginning to provide more face to face meetings, more in-person and immediate help is becoming available. However, more needs to be done to tackle domestic abuse in the UK, be that through education, harsher punishments or higher conviction rates.

Some useful links for advice and more information:

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