Coronavirus - domestic abuse

The restrictions on movement introduced to stop the spread of Covid-19 have created another crisis: a rise in domestic abuse. Below is some guidance for members and reps.

The National Domestic Abuse helpline has reported a 25% increase in calls since the coronavirus lockdown began, as well as a 150% increase in visits to their website.

Domestic abuse is always a workplace issue. We know that work is often a place of safety for women experiencing domestic abuse. But at the moment, many workers are subject to stringent social distancing measures which mean they have to work from home, isolated from their support networks.

Many are still in contact with their workplace reps, colleagues and managers – that means we all have a role to play in keeping women and children safe.

You can’t replace specialist services, but the below guide will help you develop the awareness and skills to give the best support and advice you can to someone who may be in danger.

What to do if you know or fear someone may be experiencing domestic abuse

1. Spot abuse: If you think someone’s behaviour is unusual, it is better to ask than to assume. Consider the use of closed questions (questions to which they can answer “yes” or “no”) in case someone else may be listening.

2. Remember: domestic abuse isn’t always physical. It’s a pattern of controlling and intimidating behaviour that can be emotional, economic, psychological or sexual. It can happen in same-sex and heterosexual relationships.

3. Support: The most important thing you can do is listen and believe. Keep in touch. This could be through regular video or phone calls, or if it is safer via emails or text messages. Be careful and sensitive. Keep checking in with them, even if they don’t want to seek help yet.

4. Stop abuse: Encourage them to call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. The helpline will put them in touch with local services who can help them make a plan to get safe. People experiencing domestic abuse are allowed to leave their home to seek help during lockdown. If serious domestic abuse is disclosed, you should encourage them to call 101, or 999 if the situation is critical.

  • The Bright Sky mobile app: free to download, provides support and information to employers and anyone who may be experiencing domestic abuse
  • Respect charity : provide confidential advice to perpetrators of violence to help them choose to stop, 0808 802 4040 or www.respectphoneline.org.uk
  • Women’s Aid: Survivors Handbook has practical advice and information on seeking support, click here for more information and handbook on the Women’s Aid website.
    Full list of specialist support services below.

5. Ending domestic abuse: If you know or suspect someone is at risk of perpetrating domestic abuse, you should encourage them to stop. Respect phoneline helps perpetrators of violence and abuse to end their behaviour. Their message is: “When the world is unsafe, do not make home unsafe. Get help to manage your behaviour.”

We all have a role to play to stopping domestic abuse

Please share this TUC guidance with reps, members and colleagues to help people spot signs, provide support and help stop abuse. You can visit the TUC website here.

If you or anyone you know may have been affected by domestic abuse, below is some information on services from which you can seek help.

We need the government to implement an urgent strategy to protect women and their families and to prevent abuse during COVID-19.

Community join the TUC and our sisters in the VAWG sector in calling for:

  • Representation in the crisis response planning
    Include the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and Victims Commissioner in the COVID-19 ministerial group and relevant COBRA meetings. Violence against women and girls must be factored into the highest levels of crisis response planning.
  • Urgent resourcing for the specialist support sector
    Demand for services is increasing and will likely rise even higher once lockdown is lifted. An immediate cash injection is needed to ensure specialist services, particularly grassroots organisations, can meet increased levels of demand and provide the effective, lifesaving support women and children need.
  • Raise awareness of the need to be vigilant
    Take proactive steps to raise awareness of the rise in domestic abuse and that those perpetrating it are committing a crime. Develop government guidance with the specialist VAWG services and relevant public authorities on social distancing and self-isolation specifically for those at risk of harm in the home and for their employers.
  • Equal support for all survivors
    Women with no recourse to public funds are at particular risk from VAWG due to the major barriers they face in accessing support. In a public emergency, no woman should fall outside a basic safety net. The government should end the ‘no recourse to public funds’ conditions so that all women experiencing or at risk of VAWG have immediate access to financial and housing support to escape violence.
    No woman should have to face the devastating choice of destitution or remaining with the perpetrator.

Get help

National Domestic Abuse Helpline
24 hour helpline (run by Refuge UK): 0800 2000 247

Women’s Aid
Survivors Handbook: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook
Live chat: https://chat.womensaid.org.uk

Brightsky
Information and support mobile app: https://www.hestia.org/brightsky

Rights of Women
National family law legal helpline: 020 7251 6577
https://rightsofwomen.org.uk/get-information/family-law

Galop
Specialist support for the LGBT+ community: www.galop.org.uk
Free helpline: 0800 999 5428

Latin American Women’s Rights Service
Advocacy, information and support for migrant women provided in English, Spanish and Portuguese:
http://www.lawrs.org.uk/violencia-domestica-durante-el-aislamiento

Welsh Women’s Aid
Information and support: https://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk

Scotland National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriages
24-hour helpline: 0800 027 1234

Northern Ireland Domestic Abuse
24-hour helpline: 0808 802 1414

Find out more

Violence against women and children (VAWG)
VAWG resource guide: https://www.vawgresourceguide.org

SafeLives
Information and resources: https://safelives.org.uk

Imkaan
Details of specialist support services for BME women: https://www.imkaan.org.uk

TUC Education
Domestic violence awareness in the workplace eNote

Support for perpetrators

Respect
Support to help perpetrators choose to stop:
Free phone line, Monday to Friday: 0800 802 4040
https://respectphoneline.org.uk

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