Domestic violence or abuse is any incident of violence or abuse through controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour. It includes physical, psychological, sexual, emotional and economic forms of abuse and can be carried out by a partner (male or female), family member or even house/roommates.
There has been emerging evidences of domestic violence and abuse from agencies, both statutory and voluntary across the globe especially in areas where lockdown measures are being observed. They revealed that domestic violence related calls in the UK have catapulted to over 25% during the period of the COVID-19 lockdown which shows the amount of suffering some people are subjected to in their homes. According to the report, the forms of abuse vary but key among them include household tension due to forced coexistence, excessive sexual demands, economic stress, mental health among other issues. Increased isolation could create an escalation in abuse, where those who are living with an abusive partner or family member, may be less likely to ask for help. Fewer visitors to the household may mean that evidence of physical abuse goes unnoticed. Women and children are the most vulnerable and have been targets by partners, parents and close family members. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, some women will call in complaining of their partners not allowing them to leave the house even when necessary.
During these difficult times of the pandemic, the risk of gender-based-violence escalates. Some complained being threatened to be expelled out of their houses if they show any signs of COVID-19 symptoms; while for some, the mandatory lockdowns to curb the spread of the disease have trapped them in their homes with their abusers, isolated from the people and the resources that could help them. Many victims also feel that they can no longer seek refuge at their parents’ home, for fear that they could expose their elderly parents to the virus. For some, travel restrictions may limit their ability to seek refuge from family and/or loved ones.
According to the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) and Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), some people may find domestic violence and abuse services more difficult to access or use. Women’s shelters and refugee centres may also be overcrowded during this time or may close their doors with the aim of lowering the risk of infection for the occupants. Older people, BAME groups, men, people with disabilities, and LGBT groups are no exception. People who are not entitled to benefits, housing and other public services, usually due to their immigration status are also victims with less help.
Men can also be hidden victims of domestic violence as many male victims fail to tell anyone because they want to keep their pride just to run away from being branded as weak. Research by the Mankind Initiative reveals that one in every six men will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime. “If you are a male victim of domestic abuse, you are not alone, we are here to help. No matter what your background, age, job, race or sexuality, we are here to give all the support we can”, remarked the Mankind Initiative.
At the moment people are asked to stay home as much as possible but for some people home it is not necessarily the safe haven. No one should have to deal with domestic abuse alone because there is no shame in seeking help.
Find more support from the #YouAreNotAlone campaign at gov.uk/domestic-abuse or call one of the following helplines:
- The Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline run byRefuge for victims in England: 0808 2000 247
- The 24-hour Live Fear Free helpline for domestic abuse victims in
- Wales: 0808 80 10 800 or text 078600 77 333.
- The Men’s Advice line offers support for male victims of domestic abuse: 0808 801 0327.
- The national FGM helpline: 0800 028 3550.
- The National LGBTQ+ helpline offers support for LGTBQ+ victims: 0800 999 5428