By Saida Barbar
Domestic abuse involves emotional, physical, psychological or sexual abuse in an intimate relationship or between family members. It is behaviour that is used to control and assert the power dynamic in a relationship. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, and anyone who is forced to alter their behaviour because they fear their partner is being abused.
Being trapped under lockdown rules with an abuser, as well as having reduced contact with any external support systems meant that victims and families experiencing domestic abuse were more at risk than before. Risk factors for abusers to perpetrate abuse such as increased financial pressure and mental health problems only escalates this problem. One fifth of women who reported experiencing domestic violence said that they had tried to leave the situation but were unable to access housing due to increased demand caused by the pandemic.
This impacted families as domestic violence skyrocketed in the pandemic. Children were exposed to intimate partner violence and with the closing of schools, were more likely to experience abuse themselves. 38.3% of women experiencing abuse had said that the children were increasingly being used as a tool of abuse, for example partners preventing visits to children. As many people struggle to come forward to find support due to their safety, it is key that safe spaces created by communities and the government remain in place. For example, the ‘Ask for ANI scheme’ launched in partnership with the government and pharmacies to create safe and private spaces to allow survivors to access support.
UN Women, an entity of the United Nations, launched a public awareness campaign in order to help prevent domestic abuse and make victims more aware of help that is available to them. The UK government funded £25 million into domestic abuse services in May 2020 and a further £10 million in November 2020 for funding into rape and domestic abuse support. For UK- wide help and support contact Refugee’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247/ Nottinghamshire – 01909 533610