As lockdown lifts, SafeLives calls for long-term government funding to meet increased demand on domestic abuse services
Today, SafeLives publishes new data gathered from both survivors and services that show demand for services continues to increase, despite 61% of survivors not able to reach out for support during lockdown.
During lockdown, many adult victims and children have been forced to live in fear of their perpetrators, without being able to go work, school or friends and family to seek refuge and support.
New data published today shows that a quarter of services are concerned about an increase in referrals to their services as lock-down lifts while 38% of services surveyed last month said they had already seen an increase in demand for their services which has risen from 22% who answered the same question at the start of the lockdown period.
Nearly three quarters of services said increased demand was from more victims trying to access their services while 29% said staff absence meant increased pressure on the remaining staff. Issues with accessing childcare was one reason for continued staff absence, a pressing issue for a sector predominately made up of women and an expectation on women to manage this responsibility while juggling work.
A separate survey of survivors during lockdown found that 61% were unable to reach out for support partly because they weren’t able to access phone or online support, or their perpetrator was with them all the time and they were scared of asking for help.
“My husband has been shielding since January”
“I am not believed. He is extremely manipulating and seems to turn everyone to believing him”
Calls to the national domestic abuse helpline soared by 66% during the lockdown period, but the impact of the increase in abuse of adult and child victims of abuse will last years. 76% of survivors in the survey said they were concerned about their mental health and half of them feared for the safety of their children. Sadly, many victims of abuse will not seek help for many years – SafeLives' data shows that those at the highest risk of serious harm or murder live with abuse for three years before accessing the specialist support which helps them to get safe.
As the Government prepares for a Comprehensive Spending Review it is crucial that specialist domestic abuse services are for the first time awarded sustainable funding over three years rather than short-term one-off pots of financial support which create insecurity for what are often small local charities. The emergency funding from Government is due to stop on the 31st October which frontline services are describing as a “cliff-edge”.
SafeLives’ Head of Communications Penny East said: “Lockdown has been an extremely traumatic time for survivors of domestic abuse and frontline services are starting to see an increase in victims coming through their doors. In the upcoming Spending Review we urge the Government to make sure that those doors stay open that abuse survivors – women and children – can get the life-saving help they need for the long-term, not just during the pandemic.”
Notes to editors
We are SafeLives, the UK-wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse, for everyone and for good.
We work with organisations across the UK to transform the response to domestic abuse. We want what you would want for your best friend. We listen to survivors, putting their voices at the heart of our thinking. We look at the whole picture for each individual and family to get the right help at the right time to make families everywhere safe and well. And we challenge perpetrators to change, asking ‘why doesn’t he stop?’ rather than ‘why doesn’t she leave?’ This applies whatever the gender of the victim or perpetrator and whatever the nature of their relationship.
Last year alone, nearly 11,000 professionals working on the frontline received our training. Over 65,000 adults at risk of serious harm or murder and more than 85,000 children received support through dedicated multi-agency support designed by us and delivered with partners. In the last three years, over 1,000 perpetrators have been challenged and supported to change by interventions we created with partners, and that’s just the start.
Together we can end domestic abuse. Forever. For everyone.
Domestic abuse charity SafeLives is running a #ReachIn campaign encouraging people to act if they’re concerned someone they know is experiencing domestic abuse. We know that Covid-19 restrictions have been hard for everyone, but for adults and children living with domestic abuse, opportunities to get support are more limited than ever. That’s why we’re asking people to be alert to domestic abuse, to watch out for the signs and to recognise what they can do to help.
Find out more about the #ReachIn campaign.