‘UN chief calls for domestic violence ‘ceasefire’ amid ‘horrifying global surge’’ UN chief, António Guterres
What Can We Do’s Spotlight series shines a light on the issues the UK is facing. Presented in bitesize, easily digestible facts to help you feel more informed and empowered to make change. These quick reads will direct you to specialist resources and groups for more information, and highlight ways you can get involved to make a difference.
Each week we will be looking at a different topic, kicking off with some key facts on our social media, followed by an article with direct links to ways you can do your bit.
This week we are taking a look at domestic abuse. We will direct you to some helpful links so you can learn more. We will also signpost ways you can help and support.
Domestic abuse is an issue that still isn’t sufficiently addressed and, whilst it tends to mainly affect women, it can affect anyone.
The COVID-19 lockdown in the UK left many trapped 24 hours a day with their abuser, and has seen huge surges in calls to helplines - including an 80% increase to Refuge.
As lockdown restrictions ease, more survivors are looking for places in a refuge for safety, often in areas where they do not know anyone.
However, these are in very high demand. 90 women and 94 children are turned away on a typical day in the UK due to lack of space (Women’s Aid).
The UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) has warned that there could be an additional 31 million cases of domestic abuse in the member states of the European Union, if lockdowns continue for six months.
This means that there is an even more urgent need for action.
What Can We Do?
We can also donate, speak out and volunteer.
‘Online enquiries to violence prevent support hotlines have increased up to five times’
Get informed and spread the word
Share this blog and/or our Spotlight social post which contains facts from reliable resources to help break the taboo and raise awareness. This also helps to support those around us who may be suffering without our knowledge.
It can often be difficult for someone to talk about abuse, or even recognise it themselves. Understanding the signs - including but not limited to physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, gaslighting and isolation from friends and family - is key to tackling the issue.
Also check out specific signs for male survivors and the LGBTQ+ community which are not spoken about so much. These can include exploiting fragile relationships because of gender or sexual identity and denial of hormone treatment.
Knowing the steps to take when someone is looking for help or planning to leave an abusive relationship is important to keep them safe. So is recognising that it can be dangerous, and scary to do so.
Domestic abuse charities such as Respect also provide services for perpetrators who are concerned about their behaviour and need support to change or find help.
Only 24 % of abuse cases are actually reported
This checklist of things you can do to help from Refuge can also help you support someone in an abusive relationship. This includes agreeing a code word, and keeping spare sets or copies of important documents.
We can also raise awareness of options for domestic abuse survivors in society:
During the lockdown Boots Pharmacy transformed its consultation rooms into safe spaces where people could get help and advice.
And those looking for refuge from domestic abuse can take any UK train for free with the new Rail2Refuge campaign.
Listen to stories about how domestic abuse appears and affects people:
Read: Domestic abuse killings 'more than double' amid Covid-19 lockdown - The Guardian, April 2020
Watch: How to leave your abusive partner safely in lockdown - Channel 5, May 2020
Read: Councils first in London to apply new domestic violence strategy - BBC, Sept 2019
Watch: Coronavirus: Domestic violence rises as women are trapped with their abusers - BBC World Service, June 2020 (4 minutes)
Listen: Know More Podcast: Children, Domestic Abuse and Mental Health - UK Says No More
Domestic abuse is also a form of child abuse, which can impact the physical and mental health - and quality of future relationships - of children long into adulthood.
The NSPCC has resources for spotting the signs a child is living with domestic abuse by observing a child’s behaviour, and Women’s Aid has a guide for how to talk to children about it.
Childline also has resources for young people .
For fathers who experience domestic abuse, there can be worry that abusive partners may try to take their children away from them, or that leaving an abusive partner is the wrong thing to do.
It is not the wrong thing to do.
Sign petitions and make your voice heard
Check out our previous Spotlight blog on Violence Against Women and Girls to find out more about the Istanbul Convention and more ways to support.
Sign London Black Women’s Project petition. This calls on the government to not remove vital funding to their refuge in Newham Council which helps BME survivors suffering from domestic abuse.
Sign Step Up Migrant Women’s open letter to protect migrant survivors from domestic abuse.
Join the Child First campaign and sign the petition calling on the government, family courts professionals, and involved agencies to make the family court process safer for survivors of domestic abuse.