The COVID-19 pandemic has seen all of us retreat into our homes to stay safe with our family and loved ones. However, for those suffering from domestic abuse, staying at home is as worrying as catching the virus itself.
The message from all agencies working to combat domestic abuse in Warwickshire is that no one should have to suffer violence or controlling behaviour. Help is always available. Despite the social distancing measures currently in place, anyone experiencing, or at risk of domestic abuse behaviour is still able to leave home and seek help. Refuges across the county remain open and the Police continue to investigate all reports of domestic violence.
There is also additional help and support available from the Warwickshire Domestic Abuse Support and Accommodation Service, operated by national charity Refuge and co-commissioned by Warwickshire County Council and Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe.
The dedicated helpline, 0800 408 1552, provides support and is able to signpost victims of abuse to relevant services, including, shelters and rape crisis centres. In addition, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline continues to operate 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
Rachel Shuter, Service Manager for the commissioned Refuge service in Warwickshire explains: “These are very challenging times for all of us but for those already living with domestic abuse, it can be especially frightening. Abuse needn’t just be physical, it can also take the form of psychological, emotional, financial and online harm too and the current restrictions on movement could potentially aggravate situations further.
“This means those who experience domestic abuse may feel even more isolated than normal without their friends and or other family members to help support them, but I want to reassure them that they are not alone. We are continuing to operate our helpline on 0800 408 1552 as normal, providing confidential, non-judgmental support from our team of trained advisors.
“We currently offer a call back option for those victims who find it difficult to use the phone while the perpetrator is still in the home. My overall message is that no one should ever have to suffer in silence, so please be assured that we are still here for you.”
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe added: “Domestic abuse remains a key priority for both myself and the police, despite all of the other challenges the Covid-19 virus has brought. The Police will take every report seriously and they are continuing to target high-risk offenders and support victims.
“However, not everyone will feel able to go to the Police for help, so it’s really important that support services around the county continue to function during the current Covid-19 epidemic. I’m reassured that this is the case and that all of the services I fund have contingency plans in place to ensure they can continue to provide that vital help and support.
“As we all come together to help our local communities during the current crisis, we can also help play a small part in protecting friends, neighbours and colleagues. If you suspect they are suffering at the hands of a perpetrator, please do come forward to report it so that we get them the support they need.”
Available domestic abuse support services in Warwickshire:
- For further information about relevant partners and advice and tips for abuse victims please go to www.refuge.org.uk or call the Warwickshire Domestic Violence Service on 0800 408 1552. In an emergency please call 999.
- The Family Intervention Counselling Service provides a team of dedicated and qualified therapists, working in Warwickshire and the West Midlands with families who have or are experiencing domestic abuse. Visit www.interventionservice.co.uk or call 01926 429628.
- The Domestic Abuse Counselling Service is continuing to provide telephone-based counselling services within Warwickshire and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.