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During the first 7 weeks of lockdown in the UK, the police took one call every 30 seconds relating to domestic abuse. The charity Refuge reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day. The UN has described the global spike in domestic abuse as a “shadow pandemic” alongside Covid-19.
On Monday, BBC One showed “Escaping my Abuser” – a Panorama programme looking into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on survivors of domestic abuse using research carried out by Women’s Aid. The programme was then followed by a report, “A Perfect Storm” which was published by Women’s Aid the following day, which examines the impact of lockdown on survivors, how abusers have used the pandemic as a tool of abuse, and the effect upon services supporting survivors.
The panorama programme is presented by Victoria Derbyshire, who speaks with survivors of domestic abuse who have fled their family homes during lockdown as well as opening up about abuse she has been witness to herself. The programme also speaks to Women’s Refuge Organisations and looks at their experiences throughout lockdown.
Of those women living with their abuser during lockdown, in the UK, 61% said that the abuse had worsened and more than 68% said they felt they had no one to turn to during lockdown.
One survivor recalls her abuser saying “let the games begin” on the night lockdown was first announced. She believed she wouldn’t make it out of lockdown alive, but thanks to support organisations she was able to escape her home to a place of safety, despite there being a 40.6% reduction in the number of refuge vacancies in England from 23 March to 31 May 2020 compared to the previous year.
During the height of lockdown in April, 78% of women experiencing abuse thought it was harder to escape their abuser due to lockdown restrictions including being told to stay at home and work from home.
The Government have since provided funding of £2million towards the domestic abuse services during this extremely difficult time and have published social media campaigns to raise awareness and encourage victims to seek help, including using the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone.
You can watch the “Escaping my Abuser” on BBC iPlayer here.
If you or someone you know are experiencing abuse, please contact Ramsdens Solicitors. We work closely with domestic abuse services and can provide help and assistance for your safety and security. In an emergency, please always call 999.