There has been an increase in reported domestic abuse cases in the UK during the Covid-19 lockdown. This follows statistics gathered by other countries too.
Figures are gathered by several sources, including the police, but recognised charities who victims also turn to, have also reported a demand in contact from victims.
It is perhaps unsurprising that there has been an increase during this period and there will be a few reasons why.
Figures can be confusing too, because pre-lockdown there were also periods of increased numbers, which certainly reflected on the good work charities were promoting, plus the changes in police investigations, which were some of the things that gave victim`s better confidence to report abuse.
However, the difficulties created for victims during the pandemic cannot be ignored. In addition, the unprecedented situations which people face will have led to problems that people had not previously faced.
Looking at existing perpetrators, the pandemic meant that they have spent a lot more time with their victim, where less people are leaving home for work, either through furlough or homeworking.
Work for either party in the relationship provided a reprieve, or better still, an opportunity for the victim to seek help and support.
Add to this the fact that children have spent so much time at home, they too are exposed in some cases to the abuse. This is a very worrying fact, since it has long been established that young people exposed to domestic abuse will suffer trauma themselves, and some are more likely to grow up as perpetrators themselves.
The pandemic has also led to hidden problems too. We are all largely isolated from the wider society, where we operate in our close family bubbles, but all around us there will be many cases of financial strain, families coping with mental health and people trying to juggle work and home schooling.
All these factors will place an enormous strain on families and relationships, therefore the pandemic has no doubt caused new cases too.
Domestic abuse has far reaching negative effects and the work of support groups and charitable organisations is needed now more than ever.
The demand on the police has also increased where allegations of physical abuse or controlling and coercive behaviour will normally lead to an arrest and investigation.
This current government has placed domestic abuse high on its agenda with the appointment of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner in 2019. The Domestic Abuse Bill is making its way through the various stages before becoming law, which will strengthen laws and help to reduce crimes associated to domestic abuse.
For many years there has been a heavy bias towards victims, which for obvious reasons has been correct, but there is now an increasing focus on working with perpetrators too.
The combination of protecting vulnerable victims and working with perpetrators so they learn how to build a safe relationship, or deal with the causes, will lead to a better picture in the future.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, then it is important that you seek help, either by reporting to the police or to a support organisation. Below are two national organisations who can help.
PC 1860 Mark Ranola.
Yateley Police Station.