Domestic violence, also called domestic abuse, includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members. Domestic violence can happen against anyone, and anybody can be an abuser. During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic abuse charities and other organisations are reporting an increase in cases:
• General online domestic abuse searches have increased by 352.5%
• Support lines and web chat activity has increased by 53.9% and 70.4% respectively.
• There has been a substantial rise in self-referrals to ChildLine
• An increase of up to 50% in Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) domestic abuse referrals
Public information on domestic abuse
The NHS website has advice online for the public on spotting the signs for domestic abuse and domestic violence and where to go for help. The NHS also has a help page for those who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
The Home Office have launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the dedicated support available. The campaign will highlight that isolation rules do not apply in the case of domestic abuse and that police response and support services remain available.
The Home Office is promoting the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline number is 0808 2000 247 and associated online support available at nationaldahelpline.org.uk
As part of the campaign, the Home Office has produced detailed advice for those experiencing domestic abuse and domestic violence. In addition, Respect is an anonymous and confidential helpline for men and women who are harming their partners and families. The helpline also takes calls from partners or ex-partners, friends and relatives who are concerned about perpetrators. A web chat service is available.
NHS staff will find these resources useful in signposting survivors
- and perpetrators
- to specific support teams.
Sexual Assault Referral Centers (SARCs)
SARCs remain open and accessible during COVID-19 to offer non-judgmental advice and support. Victims and survivors will be triaged on contact with the SARC, to ensure safe management during this period. Remote support will be available to support pathways to therapeutic interventions. Forensic examination services will be offered to those that want it, to support a criminal prosecution. If a patient presents with the signs of sexual assault it is important that the SARC is informed urgently.
A directory of local services is available here:
Scams and Fraud Guidance