A number of domestic abuse charities and campaigners have also reported a surge in calls to helplines.
Domestic abuse is any abuse within the home, and although commonly it is seen to be perpetrated by males, there has been an increase in female perpetrators in recent years. Children and young people can also suffer, or be exposed to, domestic abuse.
The lockdown has kept people in their homes and perhaps many feel more invisible than they would otherwise have done. It may be more difficult or even dangerous to try to access help during what are unusual times.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse can be an isolated incident or patterns of threatening or violent behaviour. However, is not always physical violence, and can also include coercive control, emotional abuse, and neglect.
How can we support families in need?
During this unprecedented time, we know that isolation will put people at greater risk. We can all play a part in supporting families in need by looking for the signs of domestic abuse, for example can you hear regular arguments? Do you see bruises when you see neighbours? Have family members or friends suddenly seemed fearful, apologetic or meek?
While social distancing and self-isolation will mean you won’t see family and friends in the same way as before, there are ways to keep in touch. Reach out via social media messaging apps or WhatsApp video chat to give the option to keep face to face contact.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel, recently launched a campaign under the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networking sites which recognises the extra pressures the lockdown can bring. Not only is it important for victims of domestic abuse to feel they are able to access help and support but also to be able to access legal advice and assistance swiftly and safely. That may be challenging if a family is constantly together under the same roof.
Support for victims of domestic abuse
For anyone who feels that they are of risk of abuse, it is important to remember there is professional help and support available; including police response, helplines and refuges. If you are in immediate danger, call 999.
- The National Domestic Abuse helpline is a free phone number where advice can be obtained 24 hours a day on (0808) 200 0247.
- Refuge is another charity able to offer advice on (0808) 0802 4040.
Local agencies covering Norfolk and Norwich also offering advice and support are:
- Leeway – a 24 Hour domestic abuse helpline 0300 561 0077. The service is available to all including children suffering or exposed to domestic abuse. There is also a Male Victim Service. Advice is free, confidential and non-judgmental. A link to their website is here: https://www.leewaysupport.org
- The Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) is able to offer legal advice and assistance for those experiencing domestic abuse. They can advise if you qualify for legal aid, and if so, put you in touch with a solicitor who specialises in this area of law. Telephone: 01603 496623/07900 153753, Text or WhatsApp: 07900 153753, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The link to their website is here: https://www.ncls.co.uk
Our family law team can provide helpful, sensitive and supportive legal advice to anyone suffering from Domestic abuse. If you would like to take legal advice our specialist family lawyer will be able to advise you how to protect yourself and your family for the future, please contact Sally Harris or Sally Briggs in the Steeles Law family team who will be happy to help you via email using email@example.com or by calling 01603 598000.