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Archive for April, 2020

UK lockdown: Calls to domestic abuse helpline jump by half

Calls to a national domestic abuse helpline rose by 49% and killings doubled weeks after lockdown, a report by MPs has revealed.

Following the “surge” in violence, the report called for a government strategy on domestic abuse during the pandemic.

MPs also said “safe spaces”, where victims can seek help, should be rolled out to supermarkets and other shops.

The Home Office said it was increasing funding to support helplines and online services.

Researchers at the Counting Dead Women Project told MPs 14 women and two children had been killed in the first three weeks of lockdown.

The figure is the largest number of killings in a three-week period for 11 years and more than double the average rate, they said.

Meanwhile, the number of calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline run by Refuge was 25% above average in the second week of lockdown and 49% higher than normal after three weeks.

Without a comprehensive government strategy to cope with the consequences of this violence, the home affairs select committee said “we will be dealing with serious consequences for a generation”.

It said the strategy should include raising awareness, prevention, victim support, housing and a criminal justice response, supported with dedicated funding and ministerial leadership.

MPs have also called for more help to allow victims access support at times when they may be unable to use the phone or ask friends for help.

Coronavirus: Rise in domestic abuse-related web searches amid COVID-19 lockdown

A surge in abuse-related searches could be a sign people are identifying themselves as victims for the first time, an expert says.

Victims of domestic abuse have been reaching out for help in ever increasing numbers.

Research has revealed a significant rise in online searches relating to domestic violence during the lockdown and since the spread of coronavirus increased.

From February to March, traffic to the website for the National Domestic Abuse Helpline increased by 156%, according to a study by online research company SEMrush.

Searches for “what is domestic abuse?” rose by 46% in the same period, and there was a 64% rise in searches for the phrases “domestic violence shelter” and “domestic abuse shelter”.

Lisa King, from the domestic violence charity Refuge, believes this is a sign some women are identifying themselves as being victims of domestic abuse for the first time and “are now reaching out for support in a way that they haven’t done before”.

“The message from government and from Refuge is that if you are experiencing domestic abuse and you want to leave your household and you are safe to do so, to then reach out and access support,” she said.