Calls to children's charity about domestic abuse 'soar' to record high during lockdown

Credit: PA Images

A children's charity said calls to their helpline about domestic abuse have "surged" to a record high since the start of lockdown.

NSPCC Cymru said they have made, on average, more than eight referrals involving domestic abuse concerns each week to Welsh local authorities since lockdown began.

In some of these cases, fears about the virus were exploited to withhold access to children and monitor victims’ movements.

NSPCC Cymru said the coronavirus crisis has highlighted how "essential" it is that every child and family can access support.

The NSPCC helpline is for adults concerned about the welfare of a child, the NSPCC also have Childline - a helpline specifically for children. Credit: PA Images

Calls about domestic abuse have reached a record high during lockdown, with helpline staff receiving 1,500 calls from concerned adults across the UK between March 23 and May 17. Of those calls, 58 per cent led to referrals or a referral update to the local authority.

One mother called the NSPCC with concerns her baby had been taken away from her by her ex-partner. She said that he demanded to take the child for a few days as otherwise "he would not get to see him until the summer because of lockdown."

Although in some cases the child is not the direct victim of physical abuse, witnessing abuse can lead children to develop depression or cause them to self-harm.

The current covid crisis has in some cases been exploited by abusers, who may use it to monitor victim's movements and restrict access to children. Credit: PA Images

Jess, 29, from north Wales was emotionally abused throughout her childhood by her father, who also beat her mother. He was later jailed for an attack on his new partner after Jess and her mother gave evidence against him in court.

Jess said: “Lee would do anything and everything from holding a knife to my throat to forcing me watch horror movies just to see me squirm.

“The final straw came for me when Lee kept me up all night, ranting about wanting to kill mum, detailing exactly how he would do it if he could. He went on like this for hours and hours, refusing to let me sleep.

“Eventually when he went to the toilet, I ran out of the house - still in my pyjamas - to a shop where I called my mum’s friend for help.”

The abuse has had a long-lasting impact on Jess and she admits “it will affect me for the rest of my life.” She is now using her story to raise awareness of how children can be impacted by domestic abuse.

Witnessing abuse or being abused as a child can have a long lasting impact as that child grows up. Credit: PA Images

Vivienne Laing, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for NSPCC Cymru, said: “The increase in calls to our helplines have shown that the pandemic may have intensified the damaging experiences of domestic abuse on children.

“It is essential that every area of Wales establishes specialist services to provide support for children and young people to enable them to recover from their experiences and that there are sufficient dedicated children workers in both refuge and community services to provide play and therapeutic work while the family is in crisis."

NSPCC Cymru said the coronavirus 'crisis has shone a spotlight on children who are living with the daily nightmare of domestic abuse.' Credit: PA Images

Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC helpline for free on 0808 800 5000 or via

Children can contact Childline for free on 0800 1111 or