It goes without saying that we've all been spending a lot more time at home over the past year. Some people even temporarily moved back to their childhood homes to see out lockdown somewhere that feels safer.
Unfortunately, for some of us, home isn't always a place of safety. Many sources have reported an increase in domestic abuse over the course of the pandemic, and Women's Aid research shows that three quarters of survivors living with their abuser felt they could not escape because of the pandemic.
If that's you, or someone you work with, there is help out there, details below - but remember: if you are at immediate risk of harm, always call 999.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality or background. Research shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be the victims of Domestic Abuse over the course of their life.
Abuse isn't just physical violence - it can include:
· coercive control, or 'gaslighting'
· financial abuse
· online abuse and harassment
· threats and intimidation
· emotional abuse
· sexual abuse
It's harder during the pandemic but try to look out for signs that someone is more withdrawn than usual or isn't being their normal self. The perpetrator may be close by, or monitoring their computer or phone usage, so be careful in how you ask questions - if you think there's a significant risk, call the police.
Make yourself heard
If you call 999 from a mobile but can't talk on the phone, your call will be transferred to the silent solution system - you will hear an automated message which will ask you to press 55 to be put through to police call management. You'll then be put through to someone who will give you instructions to help you let them know you need help without making a sound.
Many pharmacies across the UK are offering safe spaces - you can ask if you can use their Safe Space, and they'll take you to a consulting room where you can access support in private.
This is also available online: on the defnet Health and Wellbeing portal (internal users), there is a 'Safe Spaces' button now displayed - this will bring up an online portal that will help you find information about how to get support. This does not leave any trace in your browser history.
The Safe Spaces online button is also available on other major websites such as eBay, Royal Mail and the Parcelforce website.
If you want to know more
Womens Aid have a variety of resources to help you, as well as guidance on making a safety plan. (available on MODNET or a personal device)
· For men experiencing domestic abuse, the ManKind initiative is a national charity that can provide dedicated support. (available on MODNET or a personal device)