Calls to the Refuge charity’s domestic abuse helpline have increased by two-thirds since lockdown started, while website visits have risen nearly ten times.
Since the start of lockdown, Refuge, the country’s largest single provider of specialist domestic abuse services, and sole provider of the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, has tracked the demand for its Helpline and the number of visits to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline website, which have spiked significantly over the last eight weeks.
The spike in demand for the Helpline shows the extent of support required during lockdown. The window for women experiencing domestic abuse to reach out for help is ordinarily very limited – with this window narrowing further when isolating with an abusive partner. This spike in demand points to the sheer number of women affected, and why the confidential, specialist support that Refuge provides is needed more than ever.
Responding to this increase in demand, Sandra Horley, CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge said:
“Since the Covid-19 crisis began, Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline has seen a sharp and escalating rise in demand.
During the initial stages of the Covid-19 crisis, Refuge reported around 50% increase in demand to its Helpline, and a 300%+ increase in visits to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline website. However, demand has spiked again significantly – calls and contacts to the Helpline have risen to a weekly average increase of 66% and visits to our website (where women can request a safe time to be contacted) have seen a phenomenal 950% rise compared to pre Covid-19.
While lockdown itself does not cause domestic abuse, it can aggravate pre-existing behaviours in abusive partners. Women up and down the country are isolated with abusive partners – and children will be witnessing and in some cases experiencing domestic abuse. This is a terrifying ordeal and Refuge wants women to know they are not alone.
Right now women’s lives depend on them being able to access the specialist services Refuge provides, and now, more than ever, we must continue to provide the confidential support needed. Women are not alone, Refuge is there and support is available.”