The Impact of COVID-19
Our guiding vision is clear: we support people, whose lives are affected by domestic violence and abuse. We empower individuals, to make informed choices about their futures that will have an immediate and future impact.
But as the lockdown began on 23 March the nation saw a surge in domestic violence and abuse.
Women’s Aid research highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on women experiencing domestic abuse.
91% of women said the pandemic had impacted their experiences of abuse in one or more way/s. This included: feeling more afraid (52.2%) and feeling that they had no-one to turn to for help during lockdown (58.0%).
Over half of the respondents who had experienced abuse in the past, said that the pandemic had triggered memories of abuse and affected their mental health.
Despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought, one of our biggest successes has been being able to adapt to the lockdown.
Laura* was supported to leave a dangerous relationship during the lockdown. She and her worker worked out a detailed plan by phone and online and the worker coordinated everything, so that her cousin was able to get her out of the house, while the courts gave her immediate legal protection. Within hours, her partner was removed from the house so she could safely return.
There was little disruption to either our Community Team or Prevention and Recovery services. We immediately implemented our contingency plans and our specialist support workers began using Zoom, WhatsApp, Facetime and the phone to keep engaging with people in a whole new way.
Feedback from service users was positive: they said that they liked its flexibility.
Sara* lived in the family home with her partner and worked full time, so there were limited opportunities for her to get face to face support as she couldn’t meet at home or at work. Phone support was ideal as she could talk to her worker in a quiet, private space in the office.
Our support workers said that working remotely is effective and can support service users to be open about their experiences. Whatever the difference has been in our approach, our skills and our vision remain. Our workers are specialists in domestic abuse and in providing one to one support; they still offer this to our service users.
Lucas* is a young man who had been seriously sexually assaulted. He was able to discuss this with his worker on the phone but said that he wouldn’t have felt it appropriate to be so open and honest if he had been supported face to face: the distance and anonymity had helped him disclose. His worker supported him to decide to report the attack to the police and he has now made statement, and is being supported by an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser.
*names changed to protect anonymity