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Domestic abuse - information for families

Domestic abuse support during the coronavirus lockdown

The current measures in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) may put those experiencing domestic abuse at further risk. The services listed below and elsewhere on this web page offer support if you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse during the coronavirus.

What is Domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is threatening behaviour or violent acts carried out by one person towards another in romantic or family relationships. It can take many forms, but may involve one or more of the following:

  • Physical abuse - the use of violence or the threat of it towards someone.
  • Sexual abuse - forcing someone to have sex or making them carry out sex acts they don't want to do.
  • Emotional abuse - repeated controlling behaviour, threats or nasty comments towards someone.
  • Financial abuse - control over someone's property or how they use their money.

Further details of these and other types of domestic abuse can be found on the Surrey Against Domestic Abuse website.

Domestic abuse takes place across all genders and sexualities. It can be a one-off but is often repeated.

Domestic abuse support during the coronavirus lockdown

The services listed below and elsewhere on this web page offer support if you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse during the coronavirus.

  • Your Sanctuary provides information about the domestic abuse help and support available locally. They can be contacted on 01483 776822 between 9am to 9pm, seven days a week and also have an online chat service available on their website.
  • Bright Sky is an App providing support and information for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or someone concerned about a friend or family member.
  • The Citizen's Advice Bureau can offer legal and other related advice, their adviceline number is 03444 111 444.
  • Cyber and Online safety | Veritas Justice offer advice about staying safe and to those who are victims of stalking.
  • Hollie Guard turns a smart phone in to a personal safety device. If in danger, shake your phone or tap the screen to generate an alert to your emergency contacts including location.
  • National 24 Hour Domestic Abuse Helpline can amongst other support help to find refuge vacancies.
  • National Stalking Helpline provides advice and guidance if you are being made to feel harassed or intimidated by the behaviour of another person or know someone who is. They can be contacted on 0808 802 0300.
  • Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service provides advice to all survivors of stalking and professionals working with them.
  • Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) offers support to all male and female survivors of rape and sexual abuse in Surrey and the surrounding areas. Its support includes a helpline, the number of which is 08000 288022.
  • Respect Men's Advice Line is a confidential helpline, email and web chat service for male victims of domestic abuse.
  • SafeLives are a charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse. They have a dedicated Domestic abuse and COVID-19 page detailing some of the help available during Covid 19/
  • Samaritans are available to talk about any subject and can be reached on 116 123.
  • Stop Hate UK, provides details of how and who to report hate crime to.
  • Silent Solution is a way for the public to access help in an emergency situation even if it's not safe, or they are unable to speak. If you listen to the questions from the 999 operator and respond by coughing or tapping the handset, then if prompted, press 55 this lets the 999 call operator know it's a genuine emergency and you'll be put through to the police.
  • The Respect Phone line is a confidential helpline, email and web chat service for perpetrators of domestic violence looking for help to stop.

Signs of being a victim of domestic abuse

There may be other explanations for these but signs include:

  • Feeling afraid around or very anxious about upsetting your partner or family member.
  • Feeling alone and cut off from loved ones.
  • Having low self-esteem and feeling that you don't deserve better.
  • Needing alcohol, anti-depressants or other drugs to cope.

These are only some of the signs, there are many more some of which can be found on the Victim Support - Recognising the signs of domestic abuse website.

How domestic abuse can affect a child

Seeing or hearing domestic abuse is upsetting for a child and may affect them in the short or long term. It can lead to the following in children:

  • Angry or aggressive behaviour.
  • Mental health issues including anxiety, depression and self-harm.
  • Not sleeping, having nightmares or bedwetting.
  • Getting into trouble or not doing well at school.

Further ways domestic abuse can affect a child, can be found on the NSPCC - Signs, indicators and effects website.

Children may also be hurt if they try and protect someone and get caught in the middle. Those who carry out domestic abuse may also be cruel to or threaten children and it has been a factor in many Serious Case Reviews (which take place when a child has suffered a serious injury due to abuse or neglect) in Surrey.

How you can help a child

  • Tell them what they have seen or heard is wrong.
  • Tell them they can talk to you or somebody else they trust about their feelings.
  • Let them know about services such as Childline, Kooth or The Hideout (Adults), where they can talk about how they feel.
  • Plan together what to do if they feel unsafe.

Further details of ways to help a child, can be found in the Women's Aid Survivors Handbook.

Where can a victim receive help?

Being the victim of domestic abuse can affect your confidence but it is important to realise that you are not alone or to blame and there are many ways to get help including;

If you feel at risk, then try to find a safe place and contact the police on 999.