Calls to domestic abuse helpline up 25% in lockdown

Charities and support groups which help people targeted during domestic abuse incidents in their own homes are reporting that there has been a greater demand for their services during the coronavirus lockdown.

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline has reported an increase in the number of telephone calls by 25% over a period of five days during the current lockdown in the UK. The organisation attributes this to women and children being more likely to be having to spend more time in close contact with the perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse during lockdown or self-isolation.

"1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse last year, and self-isolation has the potential to aggravate pre-existing abusive behaviours by perpetrators...

Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge

The founder of the 'Choices For You' support group in Hampshire says she was glad that she took up the offers of help that were available to her when she was in need of support, many years ago. She wants to encourage others in a similar situation now, during the lockdown, to do the same.

''It is a very scary journey, but I am free from abuse and I am living my best life right now. But it has taken me ten years, and I'm so glad that I reached out to the services out there providing us support.''

Charlene Maines, Choices For You support group

Some people may be experiencing domestic abuse for the first time as the impact of health concerns and job losses add to the pressures of everyday life. The Chief Executive of the Southern Domestic Abuse Service charity, which is based in Havant, said it is vital for the situation to be taken seriously.

''There is no safe escape any longer. Previously if you were going to the shops, or going to work there would be somewhere where you could ask for help or have respite from the abuse and for children going to school was an incredible respite from abusive behaviours at home but actually we've got victims and children living in lockdown and we're really concerned about the long term effects of that.''

Claire Lambon, Chief Executive, of the Havant-based 'Southern Domestic Abuse Service

Refuges are dealing with an unprecedented demand, but the organisations which run them insist that there is still help out there.

Watch our full report below: The interviewees are Charlene Maines, from the 'Choices For You' support group in Hampshire; Claire Lambon, Chief Executive, of the Havant-based 'Southern Domestic Abuse Service' which also uses the name 'Stop Domestic Abuse'; Andrea West, Berkshire Women's Aid; Chief Constable Alan Pughsley, Kent Police; and Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman from Sussex Police.

There are a number of sources of help and advice on the Home Office website including:

  • Call the police on 999 if you are in immediate danger - the police will continue to respond to emergency calls. If you can't talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. Your call will be transferred to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.

  • The freephone, 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 run by the charity Refuge. You can also contact the helpline via Refuge's online contact form

  • Women’s Aid have produced special advice for women and children during the coronavirus lockdown. There is also an online live chat service.

  • The Men’s Advice Line - A confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse 0808 801 0327

  • Galop for members of the LGBT+ community

  • Specialist helpline: 0800 999 5428

  • Hestia provides a free-to-download mobile app 'Bright Sky' which provides support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or information for those concerned about someone they know.

  • Chayn provides online help and resources in various different languages on subjects ranging from identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those who are being abused.

  • The Respect Phoneline - for people who are worried about hurting the people they love while staying at home. The service offers support and help to manage your behaviour. Phone 0808 802 4040

The charity 'Refuge' said it wants to remind people who are living in fear that there is help out there for them.

"Refuge wants to reassure those experiencing abuse that they are not alone. Our services remain open and we have contingency plans in place for all of our services, including refuges, community-based services and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge.

Sandra Horley, Chief Executive of Refuge