An estimated 1.6 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse last year. And Claire Barnett, executive director for UN Women UK, said there is “clear evidence” from across the world that in times of economic uncertainty and societal instability, this abuse increases. “When communities undergo additional stress – from disease, to drought, to their local football team losing a match – rates of violence rise,” she told HuffPost UK.
Isolation and financial abuse are common features of domestic abuse relationships, which campaigners warn will only be further exacerbated during this pandemic. “The imposition of self-isolation can amplify the abuser’s ability to restrict women’s freedoms and leave them at heightened risk,” Hitchen added.
These comments echo the concerns of Jeremy Corbyn, who raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week: “Every fortnight three women are killed by their partner or ex-partner,” he said. “Domestic violence is only likely to increase if large numbers of people are having to self isolate.”
The imposition of self-isolation can amplify the abuser’s ability to restrict women’s freedoms.Rebecca Hitchen, campaigns manager at the End Violence Against Women Coalition
When asked about funding needed to support survivors of domestic abuse, Boris Johnson replied: “We’ve just put record funding back into councils to support them in all their responsibilities… We are committed to bringing forward a victims’ law to guarantee victims’ rights and this government has an outstanding record in tackling violence against women and girls. That is why we are taking forward, in this parliament, our landmark domestic violence bill.”
At a time when public services – including hospitals, shelters and refuges – are likely to be stretched, Barnett said we need to support the vulnerable and isolated within our communities.
“It is crucial that decision makers consider the high levels of domestic abuse in the UK, and ensure that there is effective support in place for those to whom home is a place of danger, rather than safety,” said Hitchen.
If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you are not in immediate danger, you can contact:
- The Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline (run in partnership by Women’s Aid and Refuge): 0808 2000 247
- In Scotland, contact Scotland’s 24 hour Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: 0800 027 1234
- In Northern Ireland, contact the 24 hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline: 0808 802 1414
- In Wales, contact the 24 hour Life Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800.
- National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428
- Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
- Respect helpline (for anyone worried about their own behaviour): 0808 802 0321