Self-isolating and domestic violence and abuse

Dr Emma Williamson, from the Centre for Gender and Violence Research highlights the concerns of the Coronavirus pandemic and self-isolation for people who experience abuse and points to research, resources and actions that can help make a difference.

As many of you will already know, home is not always a place a safety for those, predominately women and children, who experience abuse. The Centre for Gender and Violence Research has been researching abuse for 30 years and the impact of control, manipulation, and isolation on victims-survivors has a profound and lasting impact.  For many survivors going out to work, or going about their daily lives away from the abuse, is what sustains them and keeps them safe.

Whilst everyone is anxious about the current Coronavirus pandemic, for those whose homes are not a place of safety, this is a deeply difficult time.  Calls to specialist helplines often increase after holidays where families spend more time together.

So what can people do?

Be conscious that for some people self-isolating might be dangerous.

Support on-line services. For those isolated at home, possibly with a perpetrator, it may not be possible to call a helpline. On-line services, like that run by women’s aid, is therefore a crucial lifeline and they need support: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/urgent-appeal/

Friends and family members can make a big difference. If you are aware things ‘might not be right’ at a friend or family members home – give them a call. Let them know that they have support, particularly in this time of isolation. More on the impact that domestic violence and abuse has on people providing informal support to a survivor.

There is no doubt that many families will be financially impacted by the current crisis.  Financial abuse and poverty can also impact on families where abuse is an issue. More on Poverty and domestic violence and abuse (DVA) in the UK.

Finally, whilst many survivors will cope and get through this crisis, as they do everyday, the impact of self-isolation might be a catalyst for change.  Support services for survivors of domestic violence and abuse are already suffering from significant funding cuts over recent years and a lack of commitment to their long-term funding.  Ensuring that these services are given the funds to pick up those who need support after this crisis is going to be crucial.  https://www.womensaid.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigning-and-influencing/campaign-with-us/sos/

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