Domestic abuse and the cost of living crisis
The cost of living crisis is a worrying time for many people. For those experiencing domestic abuse, it can be dangerous, traumatic and relentless. Victims of domestic abuse are being faced with a choice – remaining in an unsafe home or facing financial destitution or homelessness.
The threat of financial destitution or homelessness have long been known to be barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. The cost of living crisis is only exacerbating this issue. No one should have to stay with an abusive partner simply because they have nowhere else to go.
Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Perpetrators of domestic abuse are using concerns of financial hardship during the cost of living crisis as an extra tool for coercive control. This can include restricting access to money, work or items they need such as clothing and food.
I used to have to go without food for days just to make sure that my daughter got fed as he wouldn't give me any money for food.
With support services also feeling mounting pressures, opportunities to get support are increasingly limited, and it can be hard for someone experiencing domestic abuse to reach out. It’s vital during this worrying time that family and friends reach in.
If you’re concerned about someone, be led by what they think is safe and start conversations gently, expressing your concern. It’s common to feel apprehensive that you might say something wrong, but simply listening and reassuring someone can break the silence around their situation. Let them know you believe them, and that any abuse is never their fault.
The pandemic has already set back economic equality between men and women by decades, putting Black and minoritised, disabled and migrant women at particular risk. During the pandemic victims of domestic abuse were forced to choose, for example, between their phones and heating. Due to the cost of living crisis we’re seeing the same patterns of economic instability and abuse.
We have joined 80 organisations and individuals calling for urgent Government action to protect both victims of domestic abuse and the specialist services needed to support them.
Staying safe during the cost of living crisis
If you are currently experiencing domestic abuse, help is available.
If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. Silent calls will work if you are not safe to speak – use the Silent Solution system and call 999 and then press 55 when prompted.
You can also ‘Ask for ANI’ (pronounced ‘Annie’) in pharmacies displaying the ‘Ask for ANI’ logo. They will offer you a safe space, provide a phone and ask if you need support from the police or other domestic abuse support services.
If you are not in immediate danger, you can contact one of the helplines listed here.
During the Covid-19 pandemic we compiled resources for people experiencing abuse. Many of the resources can also help during the cost of living crisis.
The Domestic Abuse Commissioner has also compiled a list of support schemes that victims of domestic abuse can access now.
Guidance for employers
Domestic abuse is everybody’s business, and this includes employers. Employers are well placed to spot the signs of domestic abuse in colleagues: anxiety, decreased motivation, seeming distracted, being late, being on the phone to a partner or family member very often.
Domestic abuse impacts EVERY workforce. Understanding it in all its forms and having an active strategy to identify and support victims makes moral and economic sense.
We know that as an employer, you want to do everything you can to keep your staff healthy, happy, and productive. You are in a unique position to offer vital resources and support to victims. Businesses from every sector need to take responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of their staff. This requires training, resources, and leadership.