Advice and support for people experiencing domestic abuse in isolation

Courtesy of Hestia, an organisation supporting adults and children in times of crisis

This is a quick-read guide with tips for people who are experiencing domestic abuse while in isolation with a perpetrator.

If you are in immediate danger, always call 999. If you are looking for further information or support, call the 24-hr National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247

Government guidance around the spread of coronavirus has meant that Britain is on lockdown.

For people experiencing domestic abuse and isolated at home with their perpetrator, this could be a dangerous time. Many opportunities for intervention have diminished.

However, support services remain open. Here are eight tips for keeping safe if you’re isolated with an abusive partner.

  • Know that support is available

Many support services and helplines remain operational. Here are some helplines available in the UK, which you can contact if it is safe to do so.

The Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline (England): 0808 2000 247

24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Abuse Helpline (Northern Ireland): 0808 802 1414

Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: 0800 027 1234

Live Fear Free 24 hour helpline (Wales): 0808 8010 800

Respect, Men’s Advice Line, open Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:00: 0808 801 0327

ManKind Initiative Helpline, open Monday to Friday 10:00 to 16:00: 01823 334244

Galop’s LGBT+ Helpline, open Monday, Tuesday and Friday 10:00 to 17:00, Wednesday and Thursday 10:00 to 20:00: 0800 999 5428

If it is safe to do so, download the free Bright Sky app from your app store. Hestia provides a free mobile app, Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

  • Keep your phone on you as much as possible

If you are in immediate danger, always call 999. The police are waiting for your call.

The Silent Solution system can help if you are unable to speak on a 999 call. If you call and don’t say anything, you will be put through to the Silent Solution system.

Then, if you press 55, the call will be logged as an emergency, and the local police will respond as such.

  • Stay safe online

We know that perpetrators may monitor communication channels. If it is safe to do so, have a read of Chayn’s Online Safety Guide, with tips on how to set up secure passwords, alter the privacy settings on your internet browser and more.

  • Keep as connected as possible

Maintain any social connections where possible. This could be a family member, a trusted neighbour, or a colleague. Where appropriate and if safe to do so, create a safety word or signal with a loved one, so that you can secretly communicate if you are in danger or need support.

  • Safety Plan

Think about how the current situation around coronavirus might change your personalised safety plan. If you don’t already have an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor, the above helplines are available to help you with this.

Consider things like: Do you think your perpetrator is monitoring your communications? If you had to leave immediately, where would you go? Women’s Aid has a list of things to consider when making a safety plan.

  • If you are thinking of leaving

During lockdown, leaving might seem impossible. We want you to know that many refuges across the country remain open and able to help you.

If you’re able to safely do so, keep an emergency pack in a safe location, or with a neighbour you trust, in case you decide to leave. The pack should include essentials: important documents, medication, money and clothes.

The Bright Sky app has more tips if you are thinking of leaving.

  • Maintain self-care

We know this is a particularly challenging time for people’s mental well-being whilst living in an abusive household. Try and practice self-care as frequently as you can.

This looks different for everyone; it could be exercising, reading, cooking, walking, sleeping or taking deep breaths.

Source: Hestia