‘Avalanche’ of Covid-19 Domestic Violence Cases
If you are experiencing domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic— please do not feel you have to wait to receive vital support. It is available now – advice and guidance can be found on the UK Government website.
Domestic abuse organisations in the UK are pleading for extra support, funding, and housing to help cater to a huge surge in Covid-19 domestic violence cases during the virus pandemic.
More than 25 organisations that help support domestic violence victims have raised the alarm and highlighted the unintended consequences of the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown. The added restriction on workers’ movements and pressure on frontline services could mean further danger for victims. Many domestic violence organisations have been forced to cut back on services at a time when they are needed the most.
It is feared that a huge spike in Covid-19 domestic violence abuse cases will occur during the period of lockdown, intended to help prevent the spread of the virus. Victims may feel forced to suffer in silence, rather than risk being caught seeking help by their abusers, who are likely to be present 24/7. One group, Chayn, has already reported visitors to its website had more than trebled last month in comparison to the same period last year. Refuge, another domestic abuse charity, also reported a 150% spike in traffic from March to February. Chief executive Sandra Horley said self-isolation has the potential to “aggravate pre-existing abuse behaviours” by abusers.
People are advised to stay home for others’ safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, but doing so means domestic abuse cases are rising.
Lockdown Catalyst For Domestic Abuse
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) an estimated 2.4million men and women experienced domestic abuse in the year 2019. The stark reality for many of those abused is that they could be in even more danger during the virus pandemic. The incredible strain that Covid-19 and subsequent restrictions are causing will be the catalyst for more abuse cases and an increase in the severity of them. Finances, routine, mental health and relationships are all affected by the new measures brought in to try and control the spread of the contagious disease.
The evidence suggests that abusers will raise levels of abuse and violence. The early signs are that covid-19 domestic violence abuse cases may become more regular and more extreme. There are different reasons for this – including the ‘pressure cooker’ environment that Covid-19 isolation measures can accentuate. Abusers can prey on the fact that they are with their victims 24/7 due to the fact many schools and workplaces are closed. This also means the signs of harm are not able to be seen by those in the outside world and making it more difficult for support to be accessed.
Middlesbrough Council domestic abuse lead Claire Moore said the impact of the crisis could be “devastating”.
“Social distancing and isolation can leave victims and their children facing the prospect of being isolated at home with their perpetrator, and this can act as a catalyst in itself,” she said.
Increased Risk of Online Child Abuse
One of the UK’s biggest safeguarding charities for children, the NSPCC, is warning of additional risk. Online child abuse risks significant increases due to the fact children are spending more time on the internet, and a shortage of moderators tackling sexual abuse. They said the virus prevention measures will provide offenders an “unprecedented opportunity”.
Experts believe the closure of schools will have a profound effect on children at risk of, or already experiencing abuse. Schools provide not only a place for learning and socialising for children, but act as a safe-haven from unsafe home environments for vulnerable minors. Safeguarding training at schools in the UK means that educators will report instances where they feel a child is at risk or experiencing abuse away from school. With schools being closed during Covid-19 many have switched to remote and home learning video lessons. Making the signs of domestic abuse in children harder to diagnose.
Domestic Abuse Worldwide
By the time the UK raised the risk of Covid-19 from low to moderate at the end of January, it was already spreading like wildfire across Wuhan, the source of the outbreak, and throughout other Middle-Eastern and European countries. Measures to control the outbreak became more stringent and rigorous by the day. Reports began to emerge from China of an increase in domestic violence due to strict lockdown measures designed to tackle the spread of Covid-19. The rest of the world began to report similarly worrying violence statistics that aligned with the lockdown processes being implemented.
Support For Domestic Abuse Victims
If you are the victim of domestic abuse, or want to support someone that is, there are a variety of ways that the UK law can help protect victims. When taking action against an abuser, the assistance of a process server can be crucial. Serving an emergency injunction quickly helps to protect people in vulnerable situations.
Diem Legal provides express service of all types of court orders and domestic abuse injunctions on behalf of charities, organisations and individuals. These essential services will continue throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Writer’s Bio: Lewis Murawski is the Managing Director of Kahootz Media digital marketing agency. He has been ranking websites on the first page of Google for more than 10 years.