Isolation of families for Coronavirus raises concerns about domestic abuse

How we can help stay safe through the Corona lockdown

Lockdown at home for our safety from coronavirus will mean being locked down with the abuser for many women suffering domestic abuse. Not only does it seem obvious that locking the doors on abusive relationships will be dangerous, the experience from other countries ahead of us in the battle with corona have confirmed that it is dangerous. Reports from both China and Italy have suggested the coronavirus has caused a significant spike in domestic abuse. The toxic mix of being forced to stay in close proximity with no chance of escape, financial worries and stress caused by lost jobs, tensions around home schooling and anxieties for health will often bubble over into abuse and violence. In February this year, China saw a threefold increase in reports to the police of domestic abuse compared to the previous year. Of these reports, 90% were believed triggered by tensions related to coronavirus.

The social fallout of coronavirus is likely to be catastrophic. The lockdown imposed will make the catastrophe much worse. Of course, it’s clearly necessary, without lockdown, thousands more elderly and vulnerable people would die. With lockdown, thousands of women will suffer and many will die.

Children will also be the innocent victims of the social engineering imposed to contain coronavirus. Children soak up the tensions and anxieties of dysfunctional households. It’s devastating to children’s emotional well-being to be exposed to domestic abuse. For many children living in such households, school is their only refuge and the long summer holidays bring much suffering. Children have never had such a long school holiday as they’re being given now. Of course, they should be getting home taught, but how likely and effective will this be when they and their mothers are spending every day in fear with no hope of escape?

There will likely be a much slower response by ambulance and police to survivors seeking help due to this national emergency. Both due to the risk of cross contamination and the surge in need, there will be few refuge places available. Other support women might have previously relied upon such as Sure Starts or community groups will not be available to them, friends and relatives will be keeping their distance. There is little positive to say, the situation is truly devastating.

What can women in dangerous relationships usefully do to keep themselves as safe as possible in these challenging times? Abused women are often experts at managing their own safety. They will understand the triggers for their partner’s aggression, they will know what to say and what might be dangerous to say. They will know when to silence the children, to leave the room and to keep a low profile until he calms down. It’s not always this easy, many abusers have frighteningly unpredictable behaviour and will actively seek confrontation. But when possible, now is the time to do everything possible to avoid exacerbating the risk of abuse. Now is not the time to announce your intention to leave the relationship which is known to increase risk. Of course, if the incident or threat is serious, the police / ambulance service must be called. Hopefully it won’t come to that for most.

Sometimes talking can help ease the tension for many women. We may be self-isolating and unable to see friends and family, but if it’s possible, checking in with a phone call to a friend from the bottom of the garden may take some pressure off. Many support services are still available especially via telephone. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is staffed 24 hours and remains open – 0808 2000 247. Broxtowe Women’s Project are continuing to support women and child by providing phone support and utilising digital resources to women and children living within Broxtowe Borough Council and surrounding areas. We can now be contacted on 07914 634190 Monday to Thursday 9 till 4. If you need support and want to talk, please phone or text and we will call you back as soon as possible. Alternatively you can email and an outreach support worker will contact you. We will also keep posting relevant information on the website and social media platforms.