Women’s Aid comments on the impact of coronavirus on women and children escaping domestic abuse

It is clear that coronavirus will impact the most vulnerable in our communities the greatest. Women and children experiencing and escaping from domestic abuse are likely to be affected. Self-isolation is likely to shut down routes to support and safety for women, who may face even greater barriers to finding time away from the perpetrator to seek help.

We know refuge services, which are often communal forms of accommodation, will already be preparing for women and children contracting the virus whilst living there – ensuring they can ‘self-isolate’ from other residents. We urge national and local government to take swift action to ensure that survivors who are facing barriers to support – and may be sleeping rough or sofa surfing as a result, or forced to be isolated with the perpetrator are provided with opportunities and supported to find suitable, safe self-contained accommodation where they can self-isolate.

We want to see the government take all steps to ensure that life-saving refuge services can continue to operate safely and effectively as coronavirus spreads. Refuge services who have to ‘lock down’ and stop taking referrals due to the virus may need additional financial support, as they will not receive the same level of rental income. There is also a risk that staff absences due to the virus will impact on the safe provision of these life-saving services. For this reason the government should consider refuge workers and all domestic abuse support workers within contingency plans for professions which may need to continue to run if we move to self-isolation measures, such as school closures.

This is likely to be a challenging time for refuge services, who continue to face a funding crisis and severe levels of demand for their help. Please consider supporting your local Women’s Aid service with a donation.

If you, or someone you know, need support and advise, you can contact Women’s Aid via the Live Chat: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/.

If you are worried that your partner, or that of a friend or family member, is controlling and abusive, you can go to www.womensaid.org.uk for support and information, including Live Chat, the Survivors’ Forum, The Survivor’s Handbook and the Women’s Aid Directory.

For more information, please contact the Women’s Aid press office: 020 7566 2511 [email protected]

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Women’s Aid is a registered charity in England No. 1054154

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