Domestic Violence Has Surged Under Lockdown, But Help Is Available

Photographed by Flora Maclean
The UK's leading domestic violence charity, Refuge, has reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day as lockdown "aggravates pre-existing behaviours in abusive men".
The charity's chief executive, Sandra Horley, welcomed a government pledge announced by the Home Secretary to provide an additional £2m in funding to domestic violence helplines and online support services.
"We have worked around the clock to ensure our national helpline and frontline specialist services remain open and accessible to women experiencing domestic abuse," Horley said.
"What is needed now, more than ever, is to ensure every woman experiencing domestic abuse is aware of the confidential support available."
Along with the increased funding, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a campaign to raise awareness of the support available for domestic abuse survivors. The government is encouraging people to share support information online using the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone.
Patel also urged people to share a handprint with a heart on – which she described as a "symbol of hope" – to show that "we will not tolerate abuse as a society, and that we stand in solidarity with victims of domestic abuse".
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in the year ending March 2019, 1.6 million women in the UK experienced domestic abuse. Refuge's Sandra Horley has previously spoken about the way lockdown is heightening the risk for women in abusive relationships.
"We know that abusive partners often use isolation as a tool of abuse, and that while the lockdown is not causing abuse, it can aggravate pre-existing behaviours in abusive men," she said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

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