Specialist services are ready to help all those at increased risk of suffering domestic violence and abuse under the new stay-at-home rules to combat coronavirus.
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt today urged people to stay safe, setting out a range of measures to help those at risk, especially those who may find it hard to seek help if they are isolated at home with a violent or abusive partner.
Not every home is a place of safety, but a place where people at risk of abuse and victims of abuse face a potential increase in violence and psychological torment as well as even greater isolation.
Crisis situations, like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, can result in an increase in incidents of domestic abuse, and the current quarantine represents a particularly challenging time.
Enforced isolation can be used as a tool for coercive control or as an excuse to inflict violence on victims.
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt, said:
I’m very concerned isolation and social distancing can make it easier for perpetrators to inflict coercive control or violence on their victims. I know compulsory self-isolation in domestically abusive households can increase incidents of physical and sexual violence.
I’m also aware that many victims are finding it difficult to seek help, because they fear being overheard by abusive partners or they may be unable to leave the home.
Forced isolation and lack of freedom can also have an impact on those who have previously experienced abuse, triggering flashbacks and increasing anxiety and depression.
Our health, social care and police services are working hard to support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence in every possible way.
I want to reassure you that specialist domestic abuse services are ready to help you. We are here to help.
If you are suffering domestic abuse or violence, contact the Live Fear Free helpline straight away. If you are a male victim or survivor, the Dyn helpline offers the same level of support.
Stay safe, and seek help by whatever means you can – we will be listening.
If you or someone you know is suffering physical or emotional abuse at the hands of a partner, here are some ways to get help:
- The Live Fear Free helpline is available 24 hours a day – call free on 0808 8010 800 any time, if you can do it safely. You can also text 0786 007 7333, email email@example.com or webchat - https://gov.wales/live-fear-free/contact-live-fear-free.
- If you can’t talk in safety, but you need help immediately, police forces across Wales will respond to a silent 999 call – dial 999 followed by 55 to indicate that you can’t talk, but need help.
- We’re funding emergency shelters for people who don’t have a safe place to call home – including victims of domestic abuse.
- And we’ve put funding and guidance in place to help provide community-based units and accommodation for people who are at risk of homelessness, including survivors of domestic abuse.
- We’re encouraging everyone to watch out for their loved ones – keep in touch, while staying safe, through Skype, FaceTime, or WhatsApp video. Be aware that others may be listening, so be careful with direct questions.
- Establish a code word or an emergency signal to let those close to you know that you need help and they should call the police.
- If you can do it safely, contact your local domestic abuse service, or the Live Fear Free helpline, to develop a plan to help you stay safe at home, or a safe plan for leaving.
- If you can, put together a bag of essential items (passports, bank details, emergency clothes) which you can leave safely with a trusted friend or neighbour.
- Use local shops if online shopping slots are unavailable. Take the opportunity to talk to someone.