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Domestic abuse support service assures victims help is still available

Domestic abuse support providers say victims need not feel alone during the lockdown  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Domestic abuse support providers say victims need not feel alone during the lockdown Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

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A support service has assured victims of domestic abuse that help is still at hand during the coronavirus lockdown.

Commissioned by the county council, Anglia Care Trust’s outreach services include safety planning, emotional support, accompaniment to appointments and liaising with schools in cases involving children in need.

A spokeswoman for the charity’s operations team said the lockdown had brought the impact of abuse into sharp focus and highlighted the availability of support through initiatives like the #YouAreNotAlone campaign, launched amid concerns over the ability of victims to find help in an environment used to exert further control.

Although the charity has yet to see a rise in referrals compared to the same period of last year, an increase is expected after restrictions are relaxed.

“In terms of figures for weekly referrals, we haven’t seen that rise yet,” the spokeswoman said.

“We’re anticipating a rise after restrictions are lifted – but we can’t say how big it will be.”

ACT has extended services in response to the potential difficulty of having only phone or video contact during lockdown.

Meetings with service users in need of face-to-face support are being held in public parks, subject to social-distancing, while work is planned to set up a virtual coffee morning for group gatherings.

ACT also works with the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Champions Network, which provides free training for volunteers to recognise signs, understand risk, offer basic safety advice and spread awareness.

The spokeswoman said said ACT aims to build the resilience of victims to recognise the signs of abuse and move forward.

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“It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ a service,” she added.

“We tailor it to the needs of the individual.

“It’s important victims feel they will be believed and not think ‘what did I do to deserve this?’

“Although sometimes magnified by other factors, domestic abuse is all about one person exerting control over another person.

“Victims sometimes don’t know they’re being abused – particularly when it involves coercive control or ‘gaslighting’.”

The government has pledged £76 million to support the most vulnerable during the pandemic – including £28m for more safe spaces, accommodation and access to support for domestic abuse survivors and their children.

•Suffolk County Council has provided the following information for victims of domestic abuse:

If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55 when prompted. This will transfer your call to the police, who will assist you without you having to speak.

National support is available 24/7 on 0808 2000 247 or at nationaldahelpline.org.uk.

Local Support is available from Anglia Care Trust’s Domestic Abuse Outreach Service freephone advice line for victims on 0800 9775 690, from Lighthouse Women’s Aid on 01473 228270 or at lighthousewa.org.uk, and from Bury St Edmunds Women’s Aid on 01284 753085 or at burystedmundswomensaid.org.uk.

If you are hurting the one you love, choose to stop by calling RESPECT on 0808 802 4040 or visiting respectphoneline.org.uk.


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