Fears domestic abuse victims are trapped by lockdown as reported cases fall
- Credit: Anglia Care Trust
There are concerns domestic abuse victims in Suffolk are not reaching out for help during lockdown as the number of reported cases has dropped drastically from last year.
Michelle Eaves, manager of community safety for Anglia Care Trust (ACT), which runs the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline in partnership with Suffolk County Council, said the organisation keeps a close eye on the number of cases reported to them each year.
At the second week of this third lockdown, compared to the same week last year, ACT saw a 68% decrease in the number of cases of domestic abuse reported.
"Lockdown is having a huge effect on the opportunities that sufferers have to get help and we want to get the message out there that the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline is there, not only for those people experiencing abuse, but for friends, relatives, neighbours and colleagues of those people - it’s important that people reach in to help others, as some people just don’t have the chance to reach out at the moment," she said.
ACT also fears domestic abuse cases involving older people aren't being reported as much, as of the 1508 service users they dealt with in 2019/20, only 5% were over the age of 60. Men are also less likely to report abuse when it is happening.
Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week - using the hashtag #itsnotok - runs from Monday until Sunday, February 7 and Suffolk Constabulary is supporting the week-long campaign, saying raising awareness of this ‘hidden harm’ is a priority for police and partners.
DCI Barry Byford said: "The current situation of self-isolation can make the home even more like a prison with an abuser. It may also be used as a means to exert coercive control.
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"Due to the need to self-isolate, people may not be able to see the friends and family who they normally rely on for support."
Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore has urged people to adopt the colour purple for the week in support, and added that the backlog in the courts is compounding the situation for those victims whose cases are going through the judicial process."
The free Suffolk Domestic Abuse Helpline number is 0800 977 5690 or visit the website for advice