The household isolation instruction as a result of coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.
Coronavirus restrictions have meant families are spending increased time at home meaning more exposure to some potential risks than usual, as well as reduced contact with universal services who can help raise-awareness. We know that abuse can escalate when families face greater pressure and stress, and the order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who already feel at-risk. During this time, Refuge, a domestic violence charity, saw a 700% increase in calls for help in one day.
The government defines domestic abuse as an event or pattern of events of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people aged 16 or over who are (or have been) intimate partners or family members.
Physical violence is just one type of abuse – domestic abuse can be any behaviour which is used to harm, punish or frighten you, or makes you feel bullied, controlled or intimidated. This includes mental, sexual, financial and emotional abuse and other harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), so called ‘honour’ based violence and forced marriage.
Friends, family, neighbours and community members can be a vital lifeline to those living with domestic abuse. If you are worried that someone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse, reassure them that the police and support services are still there to help and direct them to sources of support.
Faith may be the first place that people turn to in times of need. You can offer your support by:
- Contacting your church safeguarding coordinator or Synod Safeguarding Officer if you become concerned that someone may be experiencing abuse.
- Call the Police if someone is in immediate danger.
- Make training and advice accessible for those in your church, this will help them identify and support those at risk.
- Signpost to support agencies and community resources including SafeLives Be aware of the need for discreteness when signposting so as not to place survivors in any further danger.
- Consider how your safeguarding coordinator could be contacted directly and confidentially by those in need.
- Promote that those fleeing violence are exempt from the order to “stay at home” and they can leave to keep themselves safe.
- Familiarise yourself with Appendix R – Good Practice 5 – A Guide to Domestic Abuse
If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999, listen to the questions from the operator and respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can. Then follow the instructions depending on whether you are calling from a mobile or a landline.
If you call from a mobile
If prompted, press 55 to Make Yourself Heard – this will transfer your call to the police. Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.
If you call 999 from a landline
If only background noise can be heard and BT operators cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, then you will be connected to a police call handler. If you replace the handset, the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick up again.
When 999 calls are made from landlines, information about your location should be automatically available to the call handlers to help provide a response.
Useful Support providers:
Refuge runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which you can call for free, and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
Specialist lesbian, gay, bixsexual and trangender (LGBT) support:
- Galop: 0800 999 5428 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Specialist ‘by and for’ support for Black and minoritised women:
- Imkaan’s Directory of Services.
- Southall Black Sisters Helpline: A national helpline for Black and minoritised women and migrant women, including women with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF): 0208 571 9595– Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm / Online outreach advice surgery – every Wednesday 10am-12pm
- Latin American Women’s Right’s Service – Domestic Abuse Helpline:0771 928 1714 (Monday to Thursday 10 AM – 1 PM)/ 0759 597 0580 (Monday to Friday 10 AM -1PM) email@example.com
Specialist support for Deaf and disabled survivors:
- Sign Health: Supports d/Deaf people experiencing domestic abuse, including a pilot online support project –
- Call 020 3947 2601 / (Text or WhatsApp/Facetime) 07970 350366 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stay Safe East: Supports d/Deaf and disabled people experiencing domestic abuse and hate crime (London only) email@example.com
- Respond: Support for people with learning disabilities and/or autism who have experienced trauma and abuse – 020 7383 0700 /firstname.lastname@example.org
Men’s Advice Line:
The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them – 0808 801 0327.