As we reach the halfway point of the 4-week UK lockdown period, the newspapers are full of alarming headlines detailing the rise in demand for domestic abuse services during this lockdown and the last. The statistics can make for grim reading: West Mercia Police dealt with more than 4,000 domestic abuse cases between 23rd March and 26th April, the biggest number on record. The Shropshire Domestic Abuse Service (SDAS) saw 118% increase in referrals when compared to 3 years ago.
Across lockdown, Connexus is highlighting issues and resources linked to domestic abuse. As a community, it's hoped that we might be able to make a difference to the lives of those affected. So, what has Connexus been doing to support victims of domestic abuse?
Customer Service training
Firstly, it’s important to remember that domestic abuse can take a number of forms, including (but not limited to)
- Emotional or coercive control (a pattern of intimidating behaviour and/or degradation)
- Financial control
- Harassment and stalking,
- Online abuse.
This can make identifying a victim of domestic abuse, and potentially helping them, very difficult.
With our Customer Service team speaking to 100s of customers every day, Wendy Bulman, from our SDAS team offered extra advice and guidence around helping to identify and signpost victims of domestic abuse. It might only have started as a phone call about a repair, but it could now end in a life-changing referral to SDAS or similar domestic abuse support service.
It can be difficult to know what to do if you think someone is a victim of domestic abuse. You can’t tell them what to do and can only offer support. Make a note of organisations where they can seek more help: the Connexus website highlights services that are available in Shropshire and Herefordshire, for men and women.
Wendy Bulman, Domestic Abuse Support Service Manager
Dedicated support webpages
Victims of domestic abuse can often feel incredibly isolated and those who abuse will seek to exacerbate these feelings. Connexus has expanded the resources on the Domestic Abuse Support page to offer guidence and advice and signpost support services for both victims, their families and those who suspect someone they know may be a victim.
Created with the expertise of our team at SDAS, this webpage includes important advice around what to do in a domestic violence emergency, including sections on how to create a Safety Plan (a plan for what to do if you find yourself feeling unsafe at home) and how to make a 999 call if you are in immediate danger. A network of support is out there, so we signpost to SDAS, West Mercia Women’s Aid and the Men’s Advice Line from Respect.
Specialist social media and newsletter content
With lockdown keeping domestic abuse in the headlines, we've been using our Connexus social media to raise awareness around domestic abuse. This twinned with details in our upcoming newsletter (delivered to 10,000 customers) should go some way to making sure our community are more aware of how to identify and signpost victims to support.
There’s no overnight solution to domestic abuse and Coronavirus lockdown restrictions will make the situation for households affected by domestic abuse even more difficult. But we’re sure you’ll join us in the coming days and weeks when we say to victims of domestic abuse: you are not alone.