May
04
Author
Peter Willson
COVID Lockdown and Domestic Abuse

The COVID-19 lockdown has seen an unprecedented rise in the incidence of domestic abuse across the world. The UN reported increases of between 25 and 30% across Europe three weeks ago. In the UK, Refuge, the Charity that runs the UK domestic abuse helpline (0808 2000 247) has noted an increase of 150% in traffic to their website and a 50% increase in calls. This is projected to result in 61 million additional incidents of abuse worldwide during lockdown.

It is also recognised that violence during lockdown is a gendered issue as the predominant victim is female and the predominant perpetrator is male.

This is unfortunately reflected on the sites that record female domestic homicide in the UK, such as Counting Dead Women, who have recorded a doubling in the rate of deaths from two to four per week since lockdown.

This has been called the hidden pandemic and unlike coronavirus it is entirely man made.

Restored is a Christian Charity with the aim of ending violence against women. We have put together resources for victims of abuse, for church leaders and for men that can be downloaded from our website. They will help these three groups to deal with the issues of domestic violence during lockdown.

For Victims and Survivors

Isolation is a tool that perpetrators already know how to use as a tactic to gain control. The lockdown can therefore appear to legitimise isolation but perpetrators use it to withhold essential items, gain control of finances, increase surveillance, create a cover for violence, create a pretext to regain access to a relationship or isolate children from an estranged partner.

The police are now more aware of these issues and have resources to help you. If you are being abused call 999 and then without saying a word press 55, the police will then recognise you may not be able to talk but can give you instructions.

An alternative is the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, 0808 2000 247. They can help you find specialist services, from a refuge to run to, through to a lawyer to help you evict your abuser with a Domestic Violence Protection Order.

Talk to someone trusted and get information online. Have an emergency bag with essentials ready, in case you have to leave quickly. The charity Shelter will assist with accommodation in such emergencies, if family and friends cannot help.

You may have other needs and our information covers special circumstances from benefits to pets. Download them as the start of your on-line search.

For Church Leaders

Domestic abuse can be hard to see as many women do not think they are being abused and perpetrators are good at hiding it. But there are signs you can train yourself to look out for. You should also be aware that it does happen in your church.

If you discover that someone has been isolated by a partner or made more fearful of the pandemic it may be a sign of control. If you find they no longer have control of who they can talk to, their phone or finances, or that medicine, food or hygiene products are being withheld or that they have no personal space to themselves; all of these can be a sign.

If someone says they have been abused; believe them and don’t shrug it off because the abuser is your worship leader or church warden.

Stay in touch and keep the lines of communication open in a way that is safe. Use text and on the phone have a word that she can use that tells you her partner is listening in. Encourage them to get support or provide her with information you have found for yourself. Restored’s church pack can be a starting place. Then keep a record of dates, times and conversations. Keep them securely or use pseudonyms to obscure identities from a casual onlooker.

Our information gives you the do’s and don’ts in order to keep a victim safe. Download it and read it through or join a one hour online weekly training session. 

For Men

Prolonged periods in isolation and working from home will generate feelings of restriction and being enclosed. Feelings that can cause edginess and make nerves fray. But these are not an excuse to take your feelings out on others and find a scapegoat in your partner. These are times to take control and own your feelings and find ways of de-stressing.

Take time for yourself: read, listen to music, watch a movie, find something you always wanted to learn or do and try it out. Create space, even in a chair designated as the quiet spot, write things down, look through old photos, work off energy with exercise, talk to friends and most importantly talk to your partner and children about how you feel.

Make a plan for your day and week with achievable goals and targets including stuff you want to do, not just work. Get pleasure out of achieving them.

Avoid excess alcohol, drugs and porn which will harm you and your relationship. When you feel stress rising take action by doing something you know will help take you down. Our resource has plenty of ideas even for life in a small flat.

If these stresses don’t apply to you, then be a mate. Stay in contact with friends and be someone they know will listen in confidence. Be proactive and put telephone and video calls in the diary even if it’s just to share a coffee or beer across an electronic divide.

If you are being abused our literature will give you advice on where you can make yourself safe and find help. It’s not Restored’s expertise but we can point you to specialist help.

Where is God?

Restored is a Christian team who can all speak of how they have all found help and strength in knowing that there is someone beyond ourselves. A God who is caring and supportive of those who need help and who is ultimately in control. A God who has given us all hope at times of crisis and tension. A God who will provide help to those who need it, whatever the need.

That God can be found in Jesus Christ who said the following:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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Peter Willson is Operations Lead and Lead for First Man Standing at Restored.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.

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Our Zoom meetings this Wednesday, May 6th, are on this issue. Follow this link to book in for the 2.30pm call. Follow this link to book in for the 3.30pm call.