Coronavirus: 40% surge in calls to Women’s Aid compared to last year

Women's Aid said more than 4,000 calls a 39% increase, have been answered by its 24-hour national freephone helpline since late March, while its website has seen over 72,000 visits in the same period -- an increase of 74% on last year.
Coronavirus: 40% surge in calls to Women’s Aid compared to last year
Women's Aid has said that the next government need to prioritise tackling domestic violence to increase safety and protection for victims of abuse.

There has been an almost 40% surge in calls to Women's Aid since March compared to last year -- with women disclosing being raped, strangled, beaten, feeling constantly monitored and trapped in homes with their abusive partners.

Women's Aid said more than 4,000 calls a 39% increase, have been answered by its 24-hour national freephone helpline since late March, while its website has seen over 72,000 visits in the same period -- an increase of 74% on last year.

The organisation said the next government need to prioritise tackling domestic violence to increase safety and protection for victims of abuse.

Its six recommendations to the parties in government formation talks include increased targeted funding for specialist domestic violence services; reform of the criminal and family law systems; and urgently needed legislation to tackle online abuse.

Women’s Aid chief executive Sarah Benson  said: "Highlighting the safety of ‘home’ has been paramount during Covid-19.

However, this crisis has also focused minds on homes that are not safe at all.

"Since late March Women’s Aid has been on the frontline answering calls from women who are trapped at home with very dangerous abusers.

"We have spoken to women who have been attacked with weapons and fists, who are being verbally abused, controlled and monitored at all times.

"Women with underlying health issues have reported that their partners are not adhering to Covid-19 restrictions deliberately.”

Ms Benson said the dire impacts on women’s physical and mental wellbeing are already acutely evident.

"We are really concerned that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg and an essential part of post Covid-19 planning must be increasing the supports and protections to maximise the safety and well-being of victims of domestic abuse, including sexual abuse and coercive control.

"It is vital to keep the importance of a safe home, and healthy relationships to the foreground.

"We strongly believe the following commitments must be included and agreed by all parties during the government formation process in order to provide the necessary and measurable steps for both preventing and tackling domestic violence and abuse.”

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