After just a few weeks of the UK in “lockdown”, it became clear that the number of calls to helplines and other support agencies from individuals suffering some form of domestic abuse had risen dramatically.
By 12 April at least 16 suspected domestic abuse killings in the UK have been identified by campaigners, far higher than the average rate for the time of year. At the same time the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day, while a separate helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse seeking help to change their behaviour received 25% more calls after the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.
In response on 11 April the Government announced a public awareness raising campaign under the hashtag #YouAreNotAlone highlighting that if anyone is at risk of, or experiencing domestic abuse, help is still available. Additionally, the Home Secretary announced that the Home Office is working with charities and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner to provide an additional £2 million to immediately bolster domestic abuse helplines and online support.
On 2 May a further £76m trapped was pledged by Government to spend to support vulnerable people who are "in a nightmare" at home during the coronavirus lockdown. The funding package will help community-based services that work with victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence and modern slavery, as well as vulnerable children, in England and Wales. This includes the recruitment of additional counsellors for victims of sexual violence. It will also go towards the provision of safe accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, and further support for vulnerable children, in England.
It is not yet clear how charities will access this funding.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background.
There are different kinds of abuse that can happen in different contexts. The most prevalent type of domestic abuse occurs in relationships. But the definition of domestic abuse also covers abuse between family members, such as adolescent to parent violence and abuse.