Appeals for domestic abuse support have surged during the pandemic - what to do if you need help

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 12:27 pm
Across the last ten months - from April 2020 to Feb 2021 - average calls and contacts logged on Refuge's database per month is 61 per cent above the January to March 2020 baseline (Photo: Shutterstock)

A surge in appeal for help from domestic abuse in the past year has revealed the true scale of the problem, domestic violence charity Refuge has said.

In a report marking the one year anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown, and the impact it has had on domestic abuse, the charity said that in the last 12 months “more and more women have reached out for support” from its National Domestic Abuse Helpline and its supporting services.

Calls to Refuge’s helpline surged over past year

Activity on the 24-hour Helpline surged over the first national lockdown between April and June of 2020, with the average number calls and contacts logged on the database every month up by 65 per cent, compared to the previous three months.

Over the summer period restrictions eased, “but the pressure on our service remained high,” the Refuge report said.

Across the last ten months - from April 2020 to Feb 2021 - average calls and contacts logged on the charity’s database per month is 61 per cent above the January to March 2020 baseline.

From January to March 2020, 8,176 average calls and contacts were logged per month, compared to 13,162 average calls and contacts logged per month from April 2020 to February 2021.

The report found that 72 per cent of those that the Helpline team supported were women experiencing violence and abuse, who were seeking information on their rights and options, and support to plan their next steps.

Refuge said that it was contacted by women of all ages, but the most common age-bracket was 30-39.

Where can I access help?

If you or a loved one is experiencing domestic abuse, then there is a wide variety of support available.

You can call Refuge’s 24-hour helpline on 0808 2000 247 or use the live chat, which is available from Monday to Friday between 3-10pm.

You can also contact the Helpline via an online form. Your message will go to Refuge’s secure inbox, which only the expert Helpline team can access.

The Helpline can speak to people in any language via interpreters, but the charity is also beginning a programme of web content translation, which will begin in late March.

“Every woman has the right to live free from safety and fear and Refuge will continue its work to achieve this mission,” the charity said.

Charity Women’s Aid also has a wealth of domestic abuse support on offer, including a live chat, support workers, a handbook and a forum where people can speak to other domestic abuse survivors.