The current need to stay at home is stressful for us all. It can, however, cause tragic harm to those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse.
There is never an excuse for domestic abuse, no matter what the circumstances. Today it is more important than ever for those who perpetrate these heinous crimes to know that they will not get away with it - regardless of the lockdown. The police are on the alert and they will arrest, bring perpetrators into custody and prosecute.
Tragically, the National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls and online requests since the lockdown. Campaigners warn that the current restrictions on movement could have heightened domestic tensions and limited escape routes.
To meet this tragic spike, the Home Office have immediately given an extra £2 million to domestic abuse services. This additional money will bolster critical helplines and online support for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
The Home Secretary has also launched a new campaign to make sure victims of domestic abuse know that #YouAreNotAlone. Everyone is being encouraged to take part in the campaign by sharing a photo of a heart on their palm in their windows and on social media with the hashtag. From next week, social media adverts will highlight where people can find help.
The Home Secretary said: "To help us all look out for those who need help, we have created a new campaign and we have created a symbol of hope - a handprint embossed with a heart - so that people can easily show that we will not tolerate abuse as a society."
If you are aware of any friends or family in a difficult situation, please be aware of the following:
- Anyone in immediate danger should call 999 and press 55 on a mobile if they are unable to talk.
- The household isolation instruction as a result of COVID-19 does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.
- While perpetrators should be the ones to leave homes, the government will work to ensure there is refuge for victims and their children if this is not possible.
- There is 24-hour freephone support available on the National Domestic Abuse Helpline number - 0808 2000 247.
For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you, including police response, online support, helplines, refuges and other services. You are not alone.