'Lockdown has been even worse for domestic abuse victims' - Refuge patron Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair QC appeared on Good Morning Britain to discuss the impact of lockdown on those suffering domestic abuse. Cherie, who is a patron of domestic abuse charities including Refuge, said that for victims of abuse, lockdown had made their situation worse. 

She told GMB: “I think we have to realise that people in abusive relationships actually have been locked down well before this lockdown and will continue to be locked down…Day after day the abusive relationship essentially controls and prevents them from doing what they want to do. 

“There is no doubt at all, of course, that for most [of these] people before lockdown there were avenues of escape… you could go out to work, you could take the children to school, you could go whilst you abuser was at work, and visit friends, you could access services that were available… suddenly, you’re trapped 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with someone who is already abusing you. The consequences are obvious, aren’t they?” 

Cherie was asked whether the government had been too slow to react during lockdown. “To be fair on the government, they did announce some additional funding for the helplines and for services that were being provided to the survivors of domestic abuse,” she said. “The problem really wasn’t so much the temporary money they gave then, the problem was, over these last ten years or so of austerity, the slow gradual decline in the services, in the money available for refuges, for the other services.

“There are ways of better making the future better, and part of those ways are reflected in the bill that is about to go into the House of Lords for its final legislative stages before passing into law.” She explained that this bill also recognises the impact that domestic violence had on children. “We actually need to remember that children also need specialist services so that they can come out from experiences where they have seen, usually their mother, being violently treated, and that has on them a long term effect.” 

Cherie was also asked whether her husband, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, had improved his cooking skills during lockdown. “He has taken to reading cookery books,” she said. “At the moment he is just saying, ‘I like the sound of that’ but he is expressing an interest in possibly doing a bit of cooking.” 

If you need help or advice you can see several domestic abuse helplines here.