Second national lockdown: Women’s Aid is concerned for survivors of domestic abuse
Sarah Davidge Research and Evaluation Manager at Women’s Aid said
“As we go into national lockdown for a second time this year, we are once more deeply concerned for survivors.
We want to make sure that women and children experiencing domestic abuse know that Women’s Aid’s member services remain open and are there to support them throughout the pandemic. We are working hard to ensure our Live Chat helpline can meet the increase in demand.
We want to send out a clear message that there is no excuse for abuse.
We want to let survivors know: you are not alone.
Women’s Aid’s COVID-19 Resource hub is available here. The survivor guides are available in different languages and British Sign Language. You can access the government guidance on domestic abuse and COIVD 19 here.
When the country went into lockdown on 23 March, we knew how this would impact domestic abuse survivors and the services which support them. Our report A Perfect Storm published in August presented the findings of our surveys of survivors and services, and, sadly, showed that the pandemic had worsened abuse. Women living with their abuser during lockdown experienced increased abuse and isolation. Of this group,61% said the abuse had got worse and more than two-thirds said they felt they had no one to turn to during lockdown.
We also heard how abusers used the pandemic as a tool for abuse to increase control, fear and anxiety. Added to this, access to escape and support networks was restricted by lockdown measures. In April, when measures were first introduced, over three quarters of survivors living with their abuser (78%) told us that they felt they could not leave or get away as a result of the pandemic.
In spite of messaging that women experiencing abuse can leave, even during lockdown, we are concerned that another national lockdown will again make it harder for survivors to escape to safety.
Women’s domestic abuse support services were already facing a funding crisis before the pandemic. We have welcomed emergency government funding to help address some of the short-term demands on the sector. We still urgently need a long-term sustainable funding solution for the violence against women and girls’ sector.
Women’s Aid estimate that an investment of £393m a year is needed to secure a sustainable refuge sector and vital community-based support that is available and accessible to all women experiencing domestic abuse. To meet the needs of all survivors and their children, the funding settlement must include ring-fenced funding for the national network of ‘by and for’ led expert services including those for black and minoritised women, disabled and Deaf women and LGBT+ survivors which are often small and poorly resourced
Alongside a commitment that the government will sustainably fund the national network of specialist services from now on, we also urgently need changes to ensure migrant women escaping domestic abuse can access their rights to equal protection and support.“