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Domestic abuse and COVID-19

We know that this is a difficult and worrying time for everyone – but particularly so for adults and children living with abuse, and the professionals working hard to support them. On this page we will be sharing resources to help support you through this time, and will be adding more as things progress.

As always, if you or someone else is in immediate danger please call 999 and ask for the policeSilent calls will work if you are not safe to speak – use the Silent Solution system and call 999 and then press 55 when prompted. If you can’t use a voice phone, you can register with the police text service - text REGISTER to 999.  You will get a text which tells you what to do next.  Do this when it is safe so you can text when you are in danger. Find out more.

We know things are moving quickly at the moment, so we're sending out regular updates to our mailing list with all the latest guidance around domestic abuse and coronavirus. Sign up here

If you live in Scotland, please also see our Safe at Home in Scotland webpage.

Use the quick links below to find what you need: 

For people experiencing domestic abuse

It's important to know that you are not alone. Even if you are unable to leave your home at the moment, you can still access support through one of the helplines

Read our guide for staying safe during COVID-19 for victims and survivors or download the PDF.

We have also worked with other specialist domestic abuse organisations to produce joint guidance for survivors, and for friends and family.

Surviving Economic Abuse have produced guidance on economic abuse while self-isolating, as well as practical issues including benefits and sick pay. The guidance is updated regularly as the situation changes.

Citizens Advice have guidance on coronavirus and you can contact your local office by phone, email and some provide a web service. Check your local office website for the most up to date information on contact details. 

The Home Office has guidance for victims of domestic abuse and the Scottish Government have also issued signposting to support for people in Scotland, as well as guidance for those leaving home due to abuse.

Public Health Scotland, SafeLives and partners have published easy read posters to highlight the risks of Gender-based Violence during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Access useful legal advice through Advicenow on issues from housing to family and health and social care.

Online support

Support is available from Women's Aid's online chat service, open from 10am-12pm Monday-Friday.

Chayn provides online tools, information, courses and support for people experiencing abuse, all free to access. Their Soul Medicine courses provide bitesized support, delivered in disguised emails at a time that you choose. They are also launching a secure Telegram channel to provide particular support during this time. 

If you need to secure your devices or clear your browsing history after accessing support, take a look at Chayn's DIY online safety guide.

Victim Support's free, confidential live chat is open 24/7, and there is a Support Space covering topics such as difficult emotions, coping strategies, trauma and sleep. 

Making your voice heard

We want to ensure that your voice is being heard by us, policymakers and the wider world. If you can spare a couple of minutes, please complete this very short anonymous survey to tell the Government what people experiencing abuse need. 

Here's what survivors are saying. For more information see a report of the latest results.

We're using these responses to influence Government and inform others in the sector. We will be updating this document regularly to ensure survivor voice is always reflected. 

We ran a short survey to hear from victims and survivors of domestic abuse in Scotland about their experiences during COVID-19. As it can be hard to reach people currently experiencing abuse safely, especially during a pandemic, response rate was quite low. The survivors who did respond have given us really valuable insight into their needs.

Read the findings from our survivor consultation.

Resources for parents and children

Domestic abuse impacts the whole family, particularly when schools are closed and children are at home. West Sussex Connect service have kindly provided this Parent Pack, full of useful ideas for activities to do with children, links to educational resources, and helpful advice for helping children to talk about their worries. 

Rights of Women have produced guidance on COVID-19 and child contact arrangements.

The Scottish Courts have guidance on child contact orders and you can read the Scottish Government's guidance on childcare provision for key workers.

Children and young people can also access support through The Hide OutYoung Minds and Child Line.

See free resources for children on the Monkey Bob website.

Podcast: Rachel Ozanne speaks to Olive from Rights of Women, and Ursula - SafeLives Pioneer and co-founder of VOICES - about how the family courts are operating during this crisis
 

Feeling connected and looking after your wellbeing

To read uplifting and empowering words from other survivors, sign up to Voices Together – our newsletter written by and for survivors of domestic abuse.

Podcast: Rachel Williams, survivor and SafeLives Pioneer, talks to Jo Silver about how survivors may be feeling at the moment, and shares tips and advice to let you know you're not alone.

Download the transcript

Early prisoner release

The Government has announced new measures to limit COVID-19 risks in prisons and is releasing selected low-risk offenders, who have served over half their sentence and are within two months of their automatic release dates. This excludes those with a history of domestic violence, however, victims who are not part of the Victim Contact Scheme who wish to check if the offender in their case has been given early release should contact the helpline on 0300 060 6699 or email victim.helpline@justice.gov.uk.

For family, friends and neighbours

It can be difficult to know how to support someone who you suspect is experiencing domestic abuse. Alongside Dr Alison Gregory, a researcher at Bristol University who specialises in domestic abuse and informal support networks, we have produced this guide to help you.

Equation have released helpful guidance on what to say if you think a friend is experiencing domestic abuse.

If you're worried about a child, you can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Galop have developed guides for friends and family who are worried that the LGBT+ person they know is being victimised by their partner and for friends and family who are worried that the LGBT+ person they know is using violent/abusive behaviour towards their partner

In the podcast below, Dr Gregory speaks to Rachel Ozanne from SafeLives, as well as survivor and SafeLives Pioneer Ursula about these issues in more detail.

Download the transcript

Podcast: Rachel Ozanne speaks to SafeLives Pioneers Kathryn and Georgia, survivors of domestic abuse in childhood, about the impact of the current situation on children and young people living with domestic abuse.

Download the transcript

For domestic abuse professionals

How have you been supporting victims/survivors through COVID-19? What are the challenges and what needs to change? Service managers can complete our short survey so that we can feed this into Government consultations. View the latest survey results.

Thank you to all the Marac representatives in England, Northern Ireland and Wales who completed our COVID-19 Marac survey. Read the key findings and recommendations.

If you're a domestic abuse professional, part of a Marac or work around domestic abuse in any other capacity, please join the free SafeLives Community. Here you can connect with other professionals and access the latest coronavirus guidance from SafeLives. 

Its important frontline professionals look after their wellbeing so that they can continue to support vulnerable clients. Watch this webinar on balancing working from home and supporting clients.

View guidance for multi-agency forums (including Maracs) on responding to the challenges of COVID-19.

AVA's Digital Safeguarding Resource Pack covers how technology is used to abuse and control, how to conduct risk assessments online and a guide to managing online groups and forums.

The DigiSafe from Catalyst - a digital safeguarding guide for charities

Project ARES has resources for frontline workers responding to COVID-19, branching across decision making, stress and resilience, sharing experience and communication.

Watch our webinar on supporting LGBT+ victims and survivors during covid and beyond - featuring Nicole Jacobs, Catherine Donovan, Peter Kelley (Services Manager at Galop), Maddie Scott (RISE), Elly Sinclair (Call it Out Project), Saskia Richie (CEO My Cheshire Without Abuse) and James Rowlands.

Pocast: Deidre Cartwright speaks to Zoe Jackson from Aurora New Dawn, about how she and her team have been supporting clients remotely 

Podcast: Suzanne Jacob, SafeLives Chief Executive, speaks to Ngozi Fulani from Sistah Space - a specialist service supporting women and girls of African heritage

Podcast: Jo Silver speaks to Detective Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe a second time, to follow up on how the police response to domestic abuse continues to evolve during Covid

Podcast: Lucy Giles speaks to Emily McCarron from Age UK about the impact of lockdown on older people experiencing abuse

One Front Door Workshop: risk and homicide during COVID-19

Presenters Dr Jane Monckton Smith, a Forensic Criminologist specialising in Homicide, Rachel Williams, a SafeLives Pioneer and domestic abuse campaigner, Frank Mullane, Director of AAFDA (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse) and James Rowlands, DHR Chair and Doctoral Researcher, discuss risk and risk and homicide within the new and rapidly changing environment created by COVID-19. In this webinar, they explore the challenges for the sectors who support families at risk and discuss how can leaders address these. 

One Front Door Webinar: ACEs and Trauma

In this webinar led by Michelle Phillips, Head of Practice at SafeLives, we hear from Jo Hopkins (Director of Wales ACE Support Hub), Emily Alison (Clinical Psychologist: Trauma focused work in conjunction with behaviour change) and Sue Penna (Chief Creative Officer for Rockpool). This is the third in a series of workshops as part of our aim to help areas and services work well together, across all multi-agency settings, and create the right response with children, adults and whole families.

Working with young people

See our guidance for supporting young people experiencing abuse through the current crisis.

Working with perpetrators

SafeLives guidance for professionals working with those using harm during lockdown.

Core engagement pack from the Engage intervention, providing strategies to support self-management of behaviour.

Podcast: Amy speaks to Emily Alison, behavioural psychologist, about guidance for perpetrators at this time

The Respect Phoneline and Drive have launched an instant webchat service where you can ask a Drive Expert Advisor any questions about working with high-risk, high-harm perpetrators of domestic abuse. You can also email for advice on email info@drive.org.uk.

You can access Drive's professional portal full of webinars and guidance for people working with perpetrators during COVID-19 and beyond. This is relevant for professionals working in frontline DA services, social work, policing, probation, health, substance misuse, housing & others working with perpetrators of domestic abuse. Email info@drive.org.uk for the link and password. 

Child to parent violence

The following resources can help professionals responding to child to parent violence as a result of the pressures of lockdown and coronavirus:

  • Professionals can learn more about responding to parent to adult violence with Oasis Kent
  • My CWA in Cheshire, Tandem and Acorns service
  • Helen Bonnick’s blog, Holes in the Wall, is a great resource for learning more about child to parent violence

Guidance for professionals in other sectors

Social care 

We've produced some guidance for Children's Social Care professionals, Early Help teams and anyone working with families where there is domestic abuse during this time.

Podcast: Collette speaks to Dr Jess Roy from Bristol University, about how social workers can support children with the new risks they are facing

Housing

The Domestic Abuse and Housing Alliance (DAHA) have produced guidance and resources for housing providers on responding to domestic abuse during the current crisis.

Standing Together have created domestic abuse and sexual violence guidance for homelessness settings, created in partnership with St Mungo’s, SHP and FLIC and supported by Homelesslink.

Health

During the public health emergency, we have seen the use of virtual health settings increase exponentially. Some healthcare professionals had expressed hesitation or concern with regards to asking about domestic abuse whilst on a telephone call or virtual consultation. SafeLives and IRISi, together with input and endorsement by partners in the VAWG sector have created the following guidance.

See our guidance for NHS Volunteers, created with IRISi.

Standing Together have guidance for acute health professionals on responding to domestic abuse during the pandemic.

IRISi have released guidance for GP Teams, as well as reception and administration teams, including how to enquire about domestic abuse over the phone. There's also guidance for domestic abuse in the context of end of life care in the COVID-19 pandemic.

AVA have guidance for mental health professionals and more information on the blog.

Watch a webinar on the health response to COVID-19, hosted by the World Organisation for Family Doctors and featuring IRISi CEO, Medina Johnson, and Professor Gene Feder.

Councils

The Local Government Association have issued guidance for councils tackling domestic abuse during the pandemic.

Schools

The Operation Encompass Teachers' Helpline has been put in place to provide school leaders and school staff with consultation, guidance, information and support when dealing with vulnerable children experiencing domestic abuse in the home.

Call 0845 646 0890 Monday-Friday from 08:30 to 10:30am.

Podcasts for professionals
 

Podcast: Jo Silver speaks to DCC Louisa Rolfe of West Midlands Police, about how the Police are responding to domestic abuse in the current situation

Download the transcript

Podcast: Lucy McDonald speaks to ACC Duncan Sloan of Police Scotland

Download the transcript

Podcast: Jo Silver speaks to Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, about the work going on on the frontline to support victims during the pandemic.

Download the transcript

Podcast: Brandy Hubbard speaks to Bob Williams, Safeguarding Manager at North Yorkshire Police, about conducting multi-agency meeting remotely

Podcast: Daniel Ryan speaks to Natalie Whitmore, Service Manager at West Sussex Connect, about best practice when supporting clients through the pandemic

For employers

See guidance for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic to support anyone working in your organisation who may be experiencing domestic abuse.

For policymakers

Please read our briefing for MPs on the Coronovirus Bill, setting out the key issues faced by people experiencing abuse at this time, and what must be done to support them.

See our position paper on implementing a code word scheme.

See our submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee consultation on COVID-19 preparedness.

Read the VAWG sector joint statement on COVID-19.

View the Emergency Funding Joint Statement from Violence Against Women & Girls Sector, by the End Violence Against Women coalition.

Read the VAWG secor joint statement on the easing of coronavirus restrictions

Further reading

Research and briefings:

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Violence against Women and Girls
An Exploratory Investigation: Post-disaster Predictors of Intimate Partner Violence 
Briefing: Covid-19 – Gender and other Equality Issues

Briefing: End Violence Against Women Coalition - COVID-19 Pandemic and the Duty to Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls
Women’s Budget Group - ‘Crises Collide: Women and Covid-19
The Impact of COVID-19 on Domestic Abuse Perpetrator Services 
by Respect
National Violence and Mental Health Network report about children and young people: Off Radar
The Impact of COVID 19 on Disabled Women from Sisters of Frida
Pandemics and violence against women and girls from Centre for Global Development
Scotland: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Supplementary National Violence Against Women Guidance by Colsa and the Scottish Government
Scotland: COVID-19: Domestic abuse and other forms of VAWG

Podcast:

SafeLives CEO, Suzanne Jacob, OBE, appeared as a guest alongside other experts on Charlie Webster's podcast, Undiscussable, offering guidance to all victims, survivors and the general public in this time. Listen to the episode: The Devastating Effects Of COVID-19 On Victims And Survivors Of Domestic Abuse