The fears and uncertainties linked to the Coronavirus may make perpetrators of abuse more tense, angry and unpredictable than usual. And being told by the government to stay at home may mean more time in isolation with them.
It also makes it harder to get away to calmer, friendlier and more respectful places where we can feel safer, more supported and better able to seek help.
Try and keep a mobile phone with you at all times if possible. The police are a key service when in immediate danger.
Do not be afraid to call 999 in an emergency.
Familiarise yourself with The Silent Solution system. This is a system for victims of abuse who might be afraid of further danger and escalation of harm if they are overheard when calling 999 in an emergency.
When somebody calls 999, an operator will ask which emergency service is required. If the caller is unable to audibly signal to the operator, the call will be forwarded to an operating system.
If 55 is pressed by the caller, the system will detect this. The operator will then transfer the call to the relevant police force as an emergency. Click here to find out more.
Boots Pharmacy Safe Spaces
Victims of domestic abuse can access safe spaces at Boots pharmacy consultation rooms across the country, where they can contact specialist domestic abuse services for support and advice. The scheme is in response to the desperate situation facing many victims who are isolating with perpetrators during lockdown. Find Out More.
Supporting Your Wellbeing
For those of us in abusive relationships, some of the ways we can support ourselves during the Coronavirus outbreak are the same as for those whose relationships are not abusive.
This includes trying to stick to a daily routine that supports our mental and physical health. For example, going outdoors for a walk or run (while staying the recommended distance of two meters from others) will give you a break from the other person and could be a chance to seek help.
It might also be helpful to join online discussion forums. These could be ones aimed at people in abusive relationships, such as this one run by the charity Women’s Aid
. Or they could be on completely different topics, for example, music, local action to help people affected by the Coronavirus, or other interests you may have.
We should also continue with our usual methods of keeping ourselves and our children safe, where these are still possible.
It may also be helpful to:
1. Stay connected to those you trust
If it’s possible, we can use technology (like phone, e-mail or messaging apps) to stay in daily (or more frequent) touch with people who know our situation, like friends, family, colleagues or neighbours. This will help us stay connected and will show the perpetrator that other people know how we are - and may alert others if they don't hear from us.
2. Reach out for information and support
Women’s Aid is continuing to provide the following services:
The Survivors’ Forum
is an online resource for survivors of domestic abuse. The Survivors’ forum can be accessed 24/7. This is a place where survivors can support each other and share their experiences.
Women’s Aid Live Chat
is currently available Monday to Friday 10- 12pm. This could be a safer way to access some support; particularly if an abuser might also be in the property so it would be unsafe to make a telephone call.
Women’s Aid Email Service
is still operating and can also provide support.
Apps like Bright Sky
may also be helpful. This looks like a weather app so if a partner has control over personal devices, it should not be noticeable. Bright Sky provides information on what abuse is, links to information and resources, and a secure journal to record incidents of abuse secretly, without it being saved to your device.
Signs of a toxic relationship
- You don't feel good enough.
- You constantly seek the other person's validation.
- You feel you have to walk on eggshells and monitor everything you say and do.
- You're afraid to bring things up because you're not sure how the other person will react.
- The other person puts you down.
- The other person doesn't take responsibility for their actions and instead blames you.
- You start to withdraw from participating in activities or seeing people in your life.
Signs of a healthy relationship
- Both people treat each other with respect.
- There is trust and the relationship is nurturing.
- Both people listen to each other and there is compromise.
- Both people are honest and can hear feedback without it leading to physical, verbal or emotional abuse (for example, the 'silent treatment' or ignoring).
- Both people can be responsible for their own needs and also care for the relationship.
- Both people feel supported to do things they like.
- Both people are able to exert boundaries in the relationship.