The isolation measures in place during this pandemic are having a profound effect on so many. There is an overwhelming increase in the number of reports of abuse as victims are in lock down with their abusers. Sadly, this is happening on a global scale.
The household isolation instruction as a result of Coronavirus does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.
On average, two women a week die at the hands of their current or former partner but in the last three weeks, this has more than doubled with a count of 16 domestic abuse killings (Victims Commissioner). The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuge, has reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day! (April 2020)
We need to understand that lock down itself is not the cause of abuse. It is the abuser’s choice to assert power and control that is the cause. Isolation is already a means that perpetrators use to control an individual. With the measures in place to ‘stay home’, the isolation intensifies. Home is not a safe place for many victims of abuse and with lock down, abuse is escalating and the police have warned that many individuals are becoming increasingly vulnerable. West Midlands Police arrested 400 domestic abuse suspects in the space of just two weeks. Whilst this highlights the shocking figures it reassuringly shows that the Police will come if you need them.
If you are in immediate danger and at risk of harm call 999. If you’re frightened of being heard and can’t speak then there is a way for the police to detect this using Silent Solutions – press 55 (mobile phone) and your call will be transferred and you will be asked a series of simple questions which you answer yes/no. If your call is from a landline, stay on the line and you’ll be transferred to a police call handler. You may need to put the phone down, but the line will stay open for 45 seconds in case you pick it up again.
Passing a ‘help me’ note to a neighbour or the person delivering your shopping if you’re unable to get out to the supermarket will alert people to the danger you’re facing. If you are able to get to a supermarket, pass a note to someone there. Include your name and address and explain that you’re being abused and are at serious risk of harm and and need help.
The Home Secretary has said that domestic abuse victims are allowed to leave home to seek help at refuges despite rules to stop Coronavirus spreading.
We want you to know that you are not alone and help is available. Please click on the link following for in depth information during this time of extreme challenge and difficulty.
My name is Jessica. I am in my mid 20’s and live in Liverpool. This is my story.
My experiences of domestic violence happened throughout my childhood, but I was fortunate to escape that situation when I was a teenager. I grew up in a family of 5 – my parents, myself and my two younger siblings. My dad had two very different sides to him. When people met him, he was charming, friendly and a typical ‘family man’. He would sometimes offer to be one of the volunteer parents to help out on school trips, went to most of my parents evenings and sometimes took me on long bike rides, so anyone that didn’t live with him thought everything was great, but the truth was he was very emotionally and physically abusive to his family. My dad would dictate what we wore, what we watched on TV and how we spent our free time. He had an uncontrollable temper. If his favourite football team lost a match, he would scream and shout the house down, get drunk and often start hitting my mum and sometimes us kids in a rage. I remember on multiple occasions he would become physically violent if I didn’t get a perfect score in primary school spelling tests, so naturally I developed a huge anxiety problem which still partly affects me to this day.
When we weren’t at school we had to stay in our room and stay quiet or stay in the kitchen and do housework, making sure we quickly responded to his demands for more beer. He didn’t have much interest in going on days out or playing with us in the garden, he stayed in the lounge with the curtains closed, playing violent video games and getting drunk.
My mum bravely moved us away from him when I was 13 years old, and it was only then that I realised how bad the situation was before. In our new house, without my abusive dad, we were so happy, were allowed to voice our opinions, have family discussions, went on days out, did everything together as a family, got a pet for the first time, and most importantly, were allowed to be kids. Instantly, I was doing better at school, sleeping properly and my anxiety went down. It’s been 15 years since we moved away from him and we are a very happy family now.
When I heard that The Crossing Point delivers assemblies to schools around Merseyside about domestic abuse, I was overjoyed. If someone had delivered an assembly or lesson about the signs to spot when I was younger, I would have immediately picked up on it and sought out help from teachers. I never once approached a teacher or friends parents about what was going on at home, not because I was worried about what would happen, but because I genuinely thought I was to blame for his actions. I thought it was my fault, that I must have been badly behaved or not up to his standards, which I now know is completely untrue. I sincerely believe that educating younger people about the signs of domestic abuse will help so many victims recognise that what is happening to them is not right and give them the courage to speak up about it.
Labour of Love
A mother and daughter had to flee their home because of domestic abuse. After spending months in a single room above a noisy pub, with only a kettle to make drinks, they have at last been given a place of their own. They were moving into the unfurnished flat with nothing. The people from her local church heard about it and within days mum and daughter soon found themselves with everything they needed. However, the flat was in need of decoration with bare plaster everywhere. All hands on deck – again, a team of helpers from the church set to work painting. Mum and daughter are needless to say absolutely thrilled to be in a place they can call home, with the comforts that we all have a right to.
It is so sad to think that this little family had no place of their own for so long as a direct result of domestic abuse.
Coercive Control - landmark case
Domestic Violence Campaigner, David Challen, successfully campaigned to free his mother in a landmark case recognising coercive control. In 2010 Sally was jailed for life for killing her husband after decades of being coerced and humiliated by him. In February 2019 the court of appeal quashed her conviction in light of new evidence about her mental state at the time of the killing. A plea of manslaughter was accepted and having already served an equivalent penalty of over 9 years in prison, Sally was released.
She said that “many other women who are victims of abuse and violence are in prison today serving life sentences for murder rather than manslaughter”. She went on to say she hoped the justice system would take abuse more seriously. The family say that Richard Challen subjected his wife to decades of psychological abuse, which is referred to as coercive control under laws introduced in 2015.
This case has highlighted two things: that coercive control is a serious matter and that the courts need to recognise and understand domestic violence.
Tribute to founder of The Crossing point
It is with sadness that we share with you the news that Irene Taylor, founder of The Crossing Point sadly passed away on Tuesday 14th May 2019, after a long and brave battle with cancer.
Irene was a person who spent her life caring for others. She was a professional nurse working for the NHS for 45 years and following this amazingly long service she then went on to dedicate her retirement to setting up and running The Crossing Point charity.
A woman full of kindness and compassion, Irene felt moved to help rescue and restore the lives of women, men and children affected by domestic abuse. She was renowned for her caring heart, always reaching out to those whose lives had been broken. Irene was committed to helping people, encouraging them with her positive and inspiring words.
The Crossing Point is Irene’s legacy and as such we will continue the work she began and endeavour to provide the service she so passionately devoted herself to.