Domestic Abuse & Covid 19
It is undoubtedly the case that confinement in accordance with the Government guidelines will have increased the emotional and psychological isolation of many who are experiencing domestic abuse. Many domestic abuse charities are reporting that the control and coercion which many of their clients suffer is continuing behind firmly closed doors and that what the true scale of the societal crisis will not be fully known until the official lockdown lifts completely, if ever in fact. COVID-19 has had the consequential effect of presenting barriers to access to vital support and justice. Victims are not necessarily able to safely access helplines for support; secure sufficient medical evidence to support Court applications or be with family and friends at all or enough to offer a coping network.
MOJ has secured £25 million as part of a £76 million government package of support to charities supporting vulnerable people including victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse.
The Government is reacting and responding and has unveiled measures to help charities look after their clients. Extraordinary COVID-19 funding will be distributed through two separate funds, one through Police and Crime Commissioners and one through the national Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund. Separately from the funding, MOJ will also provide an extra £3 million to PCCs (Police bodies) to specifically fund Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) until 2022.
Our local domestic abuse charity, Safe in Sussex, remain active and alert and they continue to be “… concerned about people living with domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic, as home is not always a safe place for people and perpetrators may use the infection control measures as a way of controlling and coercive behaviour. We are still offering support through our outreach service over the telephone, via text and email. People can call us or visit our website to refer themselves to the outreach service. Our refuge service is still operating and keeping people safe remains a priority for the charity.
Safe in Sussex contact details:
If people are in immediate danger they should telephone the Police on 999. There is also a national domestic abuse helpline available 24 hours a day: 0808 2000 247
By Jackie Mensah, Family Solicitor for Bennett Griffin