The Dash Charity frontline workers are supporting their clients remotely.
Our helpline remains open from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday on 01753 549 865. You can also contact us using the online form on the website.
If you are in immediate danger please call the police using 999
24hr National Domestic Abuse helpline 0808 2000 247
We know from other world crises like Hurricane Katrina, Deep Water oil spillage and from the impact of Covid-19 in China that domestic abuse is likely to increase by about 30%, so we are expecting this to get worse for many people unfortunately.
In light of the challenges detailed below, The Dash Charity have launched an Urgent Fundraising Campaign to keep our vital services running.
Advice from Caron Kipping, Domestic Abuse Specialist and Divorce Coach
Here are a few tips on how to stay safe at home over the next few weeks or months if you are experiencing domestic abuse:
*If you feel an argument escalating just say whatever you need to say to keep the situation calm. Even if you don't mean it, just say whatever you need to in order to keep yourself safe or until you can find an opportunity to leave home safely
* Try to think about where or who you would go to if you are in danger
* Always call 999 if you feel threatened - they are there to help in an emergency
* Keep your mobile phone charged at all times
* If you are reaching out for support make sure you do this from a safe email, App or when you are absolutely sure you are alone
Some of the challenges victims might be experiencing due to social isolation and lockdown are:
Increased Isolation: one of the key tactics abusers use is isolation so many clients are already isolated from friends and family and will now struggle to engage with professional support, to get out of the home to escape or get some respite from their abuser.
Increased risk to children: Children will be exposed to more incidents of physical and verbal abuse as they cannot go to school or get away from the abuser.
Increased Controlling behaviour: Abusers can use the symptoms of Covid-19 and self-isolation as a tactic to excuse and justify their controlling behaviour. This potentially will impact on the coping strategies victims use – we expect an increase in drugs/alcohol misuse from some clients who struggle to cope.
Increased Economic Abuse: this is also one of the key controlling behaviours perpetrators use and now the financial pressure of job losses, lack of income, etc can be used to further escalate the levels of financial control by abusers.
Limited access to safety and support: due to isolation and restrictions related to transport systems, reduced services and lack of opportunity to escape.
These are some of the challenges we have already seen at The Dash Charity since the social isolation/lockdown measures have been in place:
An increase in self-referrals: We have seen an increase in self-referrals via our website as people try to reach out for help online, unable to call us. We are expecting this to spike again as the virus spreads and more people become infected.
We are supporting clients with safeguarding Child Protection meetings and multiagency MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment conferences) via conference video links. Police, housing, social care are continuing to work with us to support clients and to keep them safe.
All of our teams are working extended hours at present to try and reach out to clients at the safest times, as well as juggling home-working and home schooling their own children in some cases.
An increase in calls to our Helpline: We have seen an increase in calls from professionals worried about the safety of their families and needing information about local services during this crisis
Challenges with buying of essentials for Refuge families: These families have little income to buy cleaning products, food and baby milk, and they tend not to have their own transport, so they had difficulty shopping for supplies during the panic buying phase. We have collected donations of fresh food from Foodbank and put out requests for donations from our local community and from our local partners for Refuge and Outreach clients.
Increased mental health issues: Anxiety, suicidal thoughts and depression are common for victims of domestic abuse and this has increased. We are worried about Refuge mums who may feel it is easier to return home to the perpetrator than remain in Refuge. Many of our Outreach clients are also struggling to cope with their abuser at home with them all the time. We are doing all we can to keep them motivated, sharing tools and resources to help them with parenting, speaking as regularly as we can with them to keep them focussed and to provide that much needed emotional support at this really challenging time.
Staff sickness: We are putting plans in place to ensure we can keep our services running if staff become ill or need to self-isolate. We have implemented additional safety and infection control measures within our shared accommodation Refuge homes. We are obviously very worried about the potential spread of infection to other families, most of whom have young children. We will continue liaising closely with health services to keep everyone safe and well.
Financial Impact on our services: Many of our community fundraising events have been cancelled or rescheduled until later on in the year and funding is a concern. We are looking at different ways we can bring in income to sustain our services at this time and have launched a new urgent fundraising appeal.