Lockdown isolation enables domestic abusers warns charity

THE coronavirus lockdown is playing into the hands of perpetrators of domestic abuse because they can constantly monitor their victims who are isolated from outside help, says a Woking charity.

Your Sanctuary believes there has been an increase in controlling behaviour and violence in homes, which is being hidden.

Domestic abuse charity Your Sanctuary is warning that isolation during lockdown can grant domestic abusers total control over their victims and increases the risk of violence

“Lack of interactions with friends, family, schools, church, means that perpetrators can escalate their abuse and violence without fear of anybody intervening,” said Fiamma Pather, CEO of Your Sanctuary.

“We know that behind closed doors survivors and their children will be experiencing extreme forms of control and possibly physical violence which all too often ends in murder or serious harm.”

Surrey Police Detective Superintendent Sailesh Limbachia said residents have a duty to look out for one another and trust their instincts during these difficult times.

“Now that families are spending more time together, they will have disagreements and sometimes that can lead to domestic abuse.

“I would really encourage people to make sure that if you hear any noise or sounds that concern you, any banging, shouting, screaming, please get in contact with us. We are still here for people and we will deal with any reports that come to us,” he said.

“We do not want survivors of domestic abuse to suffer in silence. Support and help is still available should you need it.”

If someone is in danger and unable to talk on the phone, they should call 999 and then press 55. This transfers the call to the police control room who will assist without anyone having to speak.

There has been an increase in the numbers of women killed by a male partner, ex-partner or family member in Britain from two a week before the lockdown to five a week and a rise in referrals to helplines and services in countries where restrictions have eased.

However, domestic abuse charities in Britain, such as Your Sanctuary, have not had a huge rise in families contacting them or being referred.

“This is because survivors will be struggling to make contact with services. Their perpetrator will be able to monitor them all day leaving little space or time to seek support,” Fiamma said.

“We are determined to respond to every survivor that reaches out to us but we will need significantly greater resources in order to do this.”

The charity is facing a funding crisis after virtually all its conventional fundraising of around £90,000 a year has come to a halt.

The money comes from a large variety of sources, from church donations, to community events and individuals receiving sponsorship.

Fiamma said: “We are very worried about reducing income levels at a time when our services will be more necessary than ever, especially when the restrictions are relaxed enough that survivors can get in touch.”

* Your Sanctuary’s helpline is 01483 776822, open 9am to 9pm, seven days a week. The online chat service runs Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm and also from 7pm to 9pm every Friday. This can be accessed by visiting www.yoursanctuary.org.uk. The website has a swift “exit” button.

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