Women’s Aid respond to the National Policing Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme (VKPP) Domestic Homicide Report 2020 – 2021
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“We mourn the loss of all of those who have died as a result of domestic homicide during the past year, as we do every year. The women whose deaths are recorded in this report were mothers, sisters, daughters, friends and colleagues and their loss is felt throughout communities up and down the country. This includes women who had nowhere to turn and took their own lives as a result of coercive and controlling abuse.
Covid-19 did not cause these deaths. Abusers cause domestic abuse, and we know that the lockdown restrictions were a gift to abusers – they enabled them to find new ways to exert power and control, and increased their ability to isolate women and children. The report confirms what our own research, A Perfect Storm clearly identified – that the pandemic had a range of devastating impacts on women and children and shut them out from vital support networks.
Important and disturbing new data on the devastating cases of women who take their own lives as a result of coercive and controlling behaviour reinforces the need for the government to urgently recognise the severe impacts of domestic abuse on victims’ mental health and to ensure this is central to the forthcoming Women’s Health Strategy.
This report warns that the risk of domestic homicides and victim suicides is likely to increase yet there is already a vast shortfall in funding for the support women need. Specialist women’s domestic abuse services have worked around the clock during the pandemic to keep their doors open and keep women safe – but face continued funding uncertainty, severe demand and issues with staff burnout and wellbeing.
Nearly all victims of intimate partner homicides and victim suicides over the past year were women, and nearly all suspects were men. The government’s forthcoming Domestic Abuse Strategy must address male violence against women and it would be dangerous to take a gender neutral approach to an issue that leads to loss of life for so many women. The next spending review must finally deliver a sustainable funding future for our life-saving specialist support services, to ensure that women living with abusive partners are fully supported and able to escape to a place of safety.”