16th April 2020

Drastic Increase in Domestic Abuse Claims Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Trigger warnings: Please note that this content discusses sensitive subjects such as domestic abuse.

The arrival of the novel coronavirus strain has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. But, what is less focused on in mainstream media is the alarming rate of domestic abuse which is currently thriving in this quarantined climate. Ultimately, this leads to the millions of people staying at home, forced to stay in close proximity to their perpetrators. 

It has been two months since the first COVID-19 case has been officially declared in the United Kingdom. Currently, the country is under lockdown – following the examples set by its neighbouring countries and the originating source, China. This entails the closure of all non-essential services such as fashion retailers and restaurants. With only key-workers able to operate as usual, what does this mean for the millions who may be confined at home with their abusers? Statistics from ‘the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, has reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day, while a separate helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse seeking help to change their behaviour received 25% more calls after the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.’ This shows that abuse has skyrocketed since the outbreak. Many women are pointing to the virus as their cause for concern.

What is Domestic Abuse?

It is defined by the NSPCC as ‘any type of controlling, bullying, threatening or violent behaviour between people in a relationship’. As one can imagine, this has become markedly worse at financially uncertain and stressful times like this. Coupled with the government’s imposition of social distancing, these factors are the optimum environments for abuse to occur in.

How has the outbreak affected victims?

Millions of people, particularly women and children, are unfortunately suffering abuse amidst this international health crisis unassisted. With home visits extremely limited due to self-isolation, hotlines are the only hope that many women and children have to combat their abuse. This decade-defining outbreak simply highlights the lack of online provisions we have readily available to the general public. However, organisations such as Women’s Aid and Refuge are bringing awareness to the escalation and have started to use social media as a more discreet means of communication. Women’s Aid has also sent an open letter to the Prime Minister, requesting for urgent help in the form of donations, raising awareness and employing more staff for the social crisis.

What can victims do?

If you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic abuse during these uncertain times, please contact Women’s Aid, Refuge or the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. They are all free of charge and available to users 24/7.

To Conclude

Finally, with many people not accustomed to the draconian lockdown measures that we are currently facing, it is important to stay positive. Above all, it is imperative that we follow the government’s advice in order to protect the welfare of our people and our NHS. This is so that we can recover from the social, health and economic impacts of this outbreak, such as the tragic surge in domestic abuse reports.

Feature Image Credit: Pixabay