Victims of domestic abuse face ‘very scary’ time during COVID-19 outbreak

A woman who used a domestic abuse code word has spoke of her ordeal. Picture: ARCHANT

A woman who used a domestic abuse code word has spoke of her ordeal. Picture: ARCHANT

Charities are offering online services to victims of domestic abuse amid concerns over a rise in violence due to Government measures brought in to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

With strict lockdown measures now in place due to the COVID-19 crisis, fears have been raised over a anticipated spike in cases as people are forced to spend more time together.

Campaigners in China said domestic violence cases increased dramatically as people across much of the country were quarantined due to the outbreak.

For some victims of domestic abuse, a lockdown could see them trapped in their homes with their abuser.

MORE: Three more patients test positive for coronavirus in SuffolkTina Hickey, of Bury St Edmunds’ Women’s Aid Centre, said it’s a “very scary” time for victims but support is still available.

“Most victims of domestic abuse have some form of survival strategies in place,” she said. “Some of those survival strategies are taking their children to school every day or going to places where they are going to see other people.

“This forced isolation, where we are being told to self-isolate, almost plays into that abusive tactic. That is very scary for victims and also for children who are within that situation because often school is a safe space for children.

“It’s very worrying but for us, it’s about keeping that awareness out there, so people are looking out for one another in these circumstances.

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“We are currently delivering our work via telephone calls where it’s safe to do so obviously. We are giving support regularly, some daily and some a couple of times a week, to those clients we would normally see at our outreach centre.

“The support groups that we normally hold we’ve had to stop and we are in the process of setting up a virtual system where we can deliver those programs, again where it’s safe to do so.”

MORE: See all our coronavirus coverage hereTracey Woolf, from Suffolk and Norfolk Victim Care, said: “We know that, in self-isolation, many people will continue to deal with the impact of crime. In particular, we are anticipate a spike in enquiries from victims of domestic abuse victims forced to self-isolate with their abuser.”

“We encourage victims to continue accessing our support via telephone and online, and wish to stress that our services are available confidentially, and free of charge, regardless of whether the incident is reported to the police.”

Anyone needing advice or support can contact Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care and be directed to the right service for their area.

Call 0300 303 3706 or visit the charity’s website here.