We are all aware of the government instructions to stay at home, and that your home can be a safe place from the spread of the coronavirus. For those experiencing or feeling at risk of domestic abuse, however, the reality of being confined can be life-threatening.
Just as things like alcohol and unemployment do not cause domestic abuse, neither does the coronavirus. However, the current situation can lead to a heightened state of anxiety and the stress many of us will feel being in such close proximity for such extended periods of time with our families is likely to make this a more dangerous time for some women and children.
Social isolation and social distancing can be used by abusers as a tool of control and coercive behaviour within a pattern of physical, emotional, economic, psychological, or sexual abuse. At this time, abusers may tighten their net of coercive control imposing stricter and more unrealistic rules surrounding their family’s activities and behaviours.
As well as the following advice, we have also issued further guidance on our dedicated coronavirus page.
We can offer support and advice to people who are suffering domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse can take a number of forms: physical, sexual, verbal, financial, or mental.
It has no barriers and can affect anyone regardless of race, age, social status, or gender. As many people believe, it is not always physical violence by a man against a woman. It can be perpetrated by a man or a woman, and victims can be either men or women.
Domestic abuse can be widespread and often goes unreported.
If you are looking for services in the East Midlands that offer practical help and emotional support for victims of domestic abuse, you may find these links useful:
Derbyshire: Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Support Services
National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 200 0247
Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
GALOP (LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline): 0800 999 5428
How do I recognise domestic abuse?
- Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
- Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
- Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
- Feel emotionally numb or helpless?
- Have to ask for money for basic day to day needs?
Does your partner:
- Humiliate or yell at you?
- Criticise you and put you down?
- Isolate you from family and friends?
- Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
- Blame you for their own abusive behaviour?
- See you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
- Act excessively jealous and possessive?
- Control your movements?
- Control how you dress?
- Limit access to money?
- Threaten suicide if you leave?
- Threaten to harm you or your children?
- Destroy your belongings?
Making a crisis plan may be useful if you think you may need to leave in a hurry. Below are some suggestions to consider:
- Is there somewhere you can use a phone in an emergency such as a friend or relative’s house?
- Consider organising a spare set of keys to your home.
- Are you able to put aside money to assist with bus, taxi or train fares?
- Keep keys, money, and a spare set of clothes in a bag that you can access in a hurry.
- If possible, take identification with you, such as driving licence, birth certificate, or passport, and bank details, cards, benefit books etc.
- Remember any medication you may need to take with you.
- Do you have children? Are you able to discuss your crisis plan with them?
Who do I contact?
If you have any questions regarding your housing needs we can offer confidential advice and, if appropriate, a referral to partnering agencies.
Information will not be shared with third parties without your consent unless we believe there is significant risk to a child or vulnerable adult.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you do not have to suffer in silence.
As well as the websites listed above, you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 200 0247 and talk to someone in confidence.
In an emergency dial 999.
Forced marriage is a form of domestic abuse and is an abuse of human rights. It could also be classed as child abuse if it affects children and young people.
Women trapped in forced marriages often suffer violence, rape, forced pregnancy, and forced childbearing. Sometimes when the victims escape, the families go to great lengths to trace them. This could lead to the victim being murdered by the family (so called ‘honour killing’) or they may subject them to further honour-based violence or abuse.
It is not just women who are subjected to forced marriage – it happens to men too. Around 15% of the calls that the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) receives involve boys or men. It can also happen to women and men with a learning or physical disability. In these cases it may be less apparent and so more difficult to identify.
If you are a victim of forced marriage, or know someone who is, the FMU can support you. The FMU works with other government departments, statutory agencies, and voluntary organisations to develop effective policy for tackling forced marriage.
The FMU runs a public helpline providing confidential advice and support to victims. Caseworkers have extensive experience of the cultural, social, and emotional issues surrounding forced marriage.