The Daily Telegraph
Two thirds of domestic abuse victims tell of lockdown hell
DOMESTIC abuse worsened as a result of lockdown for two thirds of victims, a Panorama investigation revealed.
Data uncovered via Freedom of Information requests to UK police forces showed there was a call relating to domestic abuse every 30 seconds during the first seven weeks of lockdown – with reported offences including poisoning, kidnap and arson.
Two thirds of women living with an abuser said that the violence had worsened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while three quarters said it had made it harder for them to get away from the perpetrators, according to research by charity Women’s Aid for the BBC.
Domestic abuse survivor Jess, whose name has been changed, told Panorama that she was raped maybe more than 100 times during lockdown and that her husband had tried to intimidate her on the night lockdown was announced.
She told the BBC: “I was at home with him, we were both listening to Boris Johnson and he looked over at me, he had his arms folded back and chest out, because he knew that would intimidate me, and he looked at me and he said, ‘let the games begin’.”
She said he would close the curtains and lock the front door before assaulting her with the TV turned up loud “so nobody could hear me screaming”.
The Government announced £2million in support for domestic abuse hotlines after 20 days of lockdown, and launched a social media campaign to encourage victims to come forward.
But it was criticised by a charity for taking so long to act.
Fiona Dwyer, chief executive of Solace, said: “The timing was dreadful, it should not have taken 19 days to mobilise any sort of action.”
She said the delay highlighted that domestic abuse “wasn’t a priority for the Government”.
Victoria Atkins, the minister for safeguarding, told Panorama she does not believe the Government was slow to act. She said: “We were talking to charities in the very, very earliest days, we were very much responding.
“We said to them what do you need for us to help, so we very much focused on that practical help.”
Panorama is on BBC One tonight.