…here are a few things we can all do to ensure victims and survivors are able to feel they are not alone…
As we waved goodbye to 2020, we could not have imagined that the new year would start with yet another lockdown!
The pandemic has had an impact on everyone, and the idea of further restrictions has caused many to question their liberty and wellbeing. This is even more so for women who are experiencing domestic abuse.
We all know that the prevalence of domestic abuse has heightened since the onset of Covid-19 and that one in four women will experience abuse in their lifetime. We also know that home is not always the safest place. This is why the Government made it clear that restrictions do NOT apply for anyone seeking to escape abuse, even in a lockdown.
Whilst services are being stretched, it is reassuring to know they remain open and available to anyone seeking support, refuges are still open, legal advice is still available and helplines continue to be manned as an essential service.
But not everyone will have the opportunity to safely access support so here are a few things we can all do to ensure victims and survivors are able to feel they are not alone.
Safe Spaces: There are designated safe spaces throughout lockdown for women to access support, this could be at a local pharmacy, supermarket, GP surgery, school or provided through your employers (virtual and physical spaces). Knowing where your nearest safe space is, could provide the lifeline needed to keep someone safe.
Ask for ANI:
Government have launched a codeword scheme with thousands of independent and Boots pharmacies
This allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support. By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines.
More details here
Apps: There are a number of apps available online and whilst there are too many to mention, the BrightSky app could help those who are worried about someone or at risk themselves to safely access support. Please only download the app if it is safe for you to do so and if you are sure that your phone isn’t being monitored. Developed by Hestia and Vodafone, this free app offers advice, information, access to services and is available in 5 languages. More details here
Helplines: Knowing that there is free confidential support on the other end of a phone can be key to better understanding what options and choices are available to allow for informed decisions to be made as to what to do next.. Many services now offer online services through text, chat, and email including Crimestoppers to report domestic abuse anonymously. There are also a ‘leave this page’ option to cover your tracks and details on how to delete browser history.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247 is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and offers language support. They can help assess your situation and offer details of services and refuge options based on your needs as well as offer advice to anyone who is concerned about someone at risk.
Community Action: Now more than ever, we all have a part to play in keeping safe and supporting the vulnerable. This could be in the form of delivering food parcels or shopping, engaging with local projects, or simply checking in on neighbours.
In doing so you could become aware of something that doesn’t seem right, see or hear something that raises concerns or suspect that a child may be at risk of abuse or neglect. It could be nothing, but it could also be a call for help. To report your concerns, you can contact the police on 101 for non-urgent matters, in an emergency always call 999.
Specialist Services: We recognise that domestic abuse can happen to anyone and that there may be additional barriers to accessing support by some groups. This is why it is important to know that there are specialist services available. These include support for LGBT+, Learning/ Disability, Deaf, Male victims of abuse, Black Asian Ethnic Minorities, those with no recourse to public funds, Refugees/Asylum seekers and much more.
EDAC: In recognition of the financial impact of abuse, and indeed the pandemic has had on women’s economic outcomes, The Employers Domestic Abuse Covenant (EDAC) supports women affected by abuse to enter or re enter the workplace as well as identify work and life skills to help increase confidence, access support and build a brighter future.
Supported by Government, EDAC offers a range of services from paid jobs, internships, work placements, mentoring, coaching as well as access to other services and a client advisor to endure a holistic and bespoke approach for clients. More details can be found at www.edacuk.org or call 0300 102 3231 or drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Whilst not an exhaustive list, I hope this helps to explore some of services and options available and what more we can all do to make a difference. In these uncertain times, it is important to know you are not alone, you do not have to suffer in silence and that support is available.
Founder, The Sharan Project
Joint Chair, The London Harmful Practices Working Group
Founding member, Employers Domestic Abuse Covenant (EDAC)