Pandemic’s surge in domestic abuse highlights funding and support shortfalls

  • The Covid-19 pandemic increased existing pressures on survivors of abuse, including economic and mental strains, with over-stretched services making access to support harder than ever. 
  • Specifically, the past 18 months highlighted the urgent need to address discrimination and structural inequalities creating barriers to survivors getting help. 

Ten leading domestic abuse charities are calling for long-term, sustainable funding and adequate support for survivors of domestic abuse, off the back of data gathered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, Wednesday 3rd November, the partnership publishes its report, The Shadow Pandemic – shining a light on domestic abuse during Covid. The report calls for a funding solution that is long-term, sustainable and ensures survivors from minoritised groups have better access to specialist support services. The partnership highlights the urgent need to tackle all forms of discrimination and structural inequality that enable abuse and prevent survivors getting help. 

Crucially, domestic abuse services, statutory and voluntary agencies, policy makers and practitioners need to learn from the experience of lockdowns and Covid-19 more broadly to ensure they are better prepared for any future surges in domestic abuse. Life-saving domestic abuse innovations created during the pandemic must become mainstream. 

The report reveals mental health as a primary area for improvement amongst domestic abuse services, calling for funding injections for social care and childcare, ensuring women can return to work and avoid widening the gender pay gap. The report also recommends additional funding be made available to address the short and long-term mental health impacts of Covid-19 and for the Women’s Health Strategy to address trauma and abuse within this and broader contexts. 


Quote from The Shadow Pandemic partnership:  

“Organisations across the UK saw a huge surge in reports and demand around domestic abuse. This shadow pandemic of women, trapped in their homes with perpetrators – harmed, intimidated and made to feel afraid in new and horrifying ways, cannot be ignored. Trauma doesn’t disappear when lockdown ends and decision-makers must address the shortfalls in support brought to light during the past 18 months. 

“Specifically, the Shadow Pandemic reveals inadequate mental health services for survivors, and under-funded specialist services for minoritised women. Women tell us every day that escaping an abusive relationship is the hardest thing they’ve ever done: the Government must remove as many barriers to seeking support as possible.”  


The Shadow Pandemic is a domestic abuse strategic learning partnership of eleven organisations; AAFDA, Chayn, Galop, Imkaan, Respect, Rights of Women, SafeLives, Social Finance, Standing Together, Surviving Economic Abuse and Women’s Aid. The Shadow Pandemic shares expertise following the Covid-19 pandemic and recommendations for a safer, better-supported future for survivors. The report is supported by The National Lottery Community Fund and brings together the voices of survivors and practitioners; relevant data from each organisation; and a wealth of practical and policy expertise, to evidence and explain what long-term changes are needed in the sector, as well as in national and local government following the global pandemic.

Notes to editors: 

For media enquiries please email [email protected] or call 020 7566 2511 


  • AAFDA: If you have lost a loved one through fatal domestic abuse, contact us to see if we can help you: 
  • Galop: National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline. Our helpline is for LGBT+ people who have or are experiencing domestic abuse. We are also here for people supporting a survivor of domestic abuse; friends, families and those working with a survivor:  
  • Respect: Respect Phoneline – confidential helpline, email and webchat service for domestic abuse perpetrators and those supporting them and Men’s Advice Line – confidential helpline, email and webchat service for male victims of domestic abuse: 
  • Women’s Aid: Women’s Aid’s live chat service lets women chat directly with a support worker: 

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