Why the Covid-19 crisis is increasing the risk of domestic abuse for thousands worldwide

Why the Covid-19 crisis is increasing the risk of domestic abuse for thousands worldwide

Source: Irene Lee

Staying inside for long periods of time and sharing space with others is difficult at the best of times, families, partners and siblings can’t always get along but at time of such anxiety it can be particularly hard for some. This week the BBC reported on a spike in domestic abuse cases as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown initiative.

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline, has reported that styles of domestic abuse in this period have adapted to the situation to involve:

  • Abusive partners may withhold necessary items, such as hand sanitizer or disinfectants.
  • Abusive partners may share misinformation about the pandemic to control or frighten survivors, or to prevent them from seeking appropriate medical attention if they have symptoms.
  • Abusive partners may withhold insurance cards, threaten to cancel insurance, or prevent survivors from seeking medical attention if they need it.

Nazir Afzal, a patron of the JAN Trust has commented on the worldwide increase in abuse levels. In the UK we have already seen nine so-called ‘self isolation’ murders including, most recently a family of four in West Sussex in a suspected murder-suicide, a 31 year old healthcare worker, a 67 year old wife and mother and a family of 3.

It is women and children who statistically experience domestic violence at home and during quarantine thousands more are becoming at risk with the opportunity for safe spaces for those suffering from domestic abuse being reduced alongside increasing uncertainty and financial pressure. With medical and community centres inaccessible and travel restrictions impacting safety plans and access to safe spaces.

As well as this, the closing down of schools has left many children at home vulnerable and at risk of danger or witnessing a parent experiencing domestic abuse. Women’s Aid has reported that 1 in 7 which translates to 14.8% of children under the age of 18 have lived with domestic violence at some point. Heartbreakingly for children the long-term effects of domestic abuse can be: low self-worth, nightmares, insomnia, self-harm, aggression and low levels of educational attainment. Typically this can result in a vicious cycle with a study in North America finding that children who have been exposed to domestic violence in the home, 15 times more likely to be physically sexually assaulted than the national average.

JAN Trust works tirelessly to try help minimise the prevalence of domestic violence by providing impartial, culturally sensitive and confidential advice and guidance in English and South Asian languages for women suffering or fleeing from domestic abuse. As well as the anonymity necessary to feel safe in accessing help.

If you or you suspect someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, try to maintain social connections online or over the phone and if it is safe to do so try and maintain your daily routine as much as possible.

Remember you are not alone.

Attached is a link to the Women’s Aid ‘Survivors Handbook’ which provides helpful information on legal rights, finances, housing and money:


Government domestic abuse website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help

Contact the below numbers and websites for further help:

Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge
0808 200 0247

Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people)
0800 999 5428

Men’s Advice Line
0808 801 0327

Rape Crisis (England and Wales)
0808 802 9999

Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline
0800 027 1234

Scottish Women’s Aid
0131 226 6606

Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline
0808 80 10 800

Women’s Aid Federation (Northern Ireland)
0800 917 1414