Nationally, there has been a big increase in domestic abuse and it is likely to increase even more, the longer the pandemic lasts. In many cases this is because the order to stay home has put people who experience abuse inside their homes with their abusers for many more hours, every day of the week. It also means organisations that would usually spot physical signs of abuse have less contact with people.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse is more than physical violence. It can also include, but is not limited to:
- coercive control and ‘gaslighting’
- economic abuse
- online abuse
- verbal abuse
- emotional abuse
- sexual abuse
Where to get help
If you are being abused, or worried you may commit domestic abuse, please use the following services which can help you.
If you suspect that your neighbours or those in your community are victims of domestic abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.
Abuse is unacceptable in any situation and if you are in danger or feel at risk of abuse, please remember there is help and support available. A number of safeguarding services are still open and Bristol social workers are providing essential support across the city.
The government has confirmed people who need to leave the house to seek help, can.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you are unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the police who will assist you without you having to speak.
If you are not in immediate danger but need support, contact whichever of the organisations below that offer the support you need – including if you need support to move out of the house.
While we self-isolate across Bristol, neighbours and communities can support by looking out for children and adults, including elderly people, who may be harmed in their homes. If you suspect that your neighbours or those in your community are victims of abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.
Where to get help
- Next Link provide support services, and can help arrange emergency accommodation, for women and girls who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse. You can speak to someone on live chat or by calling 0117 925 0680 (10am-4pm, Monday-Friday).
- Support for male victims of domestic abuse is available from Victim Support on 07432 504 692 or email: bristolmens.dasupport@victimsupport.
- If you are worried that a child is being harmed or at risk of harm you can contact the First Response team on 0117 903 6444 or the NSPCC 24 hour helpline: 0808 800 5000 (free from a landline) or text 88858 (service is free and anonymous).
- If you are concerned about abuse of a vulnerable adult you can call Care Direct on 0117 922 2700.
No-one ever ‘deserves’ abuse so don’t let anyone convince you that you do. What we all deserve, whoever we are, is to live free from abuse so please do use the organisations out there that can help you make this a reality.
As well as these local providers of support, you can get help from:
National Domestic Abuse Helpline
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline website provides guidance and support for potential victims, as well as those who are worried about friends and loved ones. They can also be called, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
The website also has a form through which women can book a safe time for a call from the team.
Women’s Aid has provided additional advice specifically designed for the current coronavirus outbreak, including a live chat service.
Men’s Advice Line
The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. It can be contacted on 0808 801 0327.
If you are concerned about how coronavirus may affect your finances and leave you vulnerable to economic abuse, please see the advice provided by HM Treasury on what support is on offer. The charity Surviving Economic Abuse has also provided additional guidance and support.
Galop – for members of the LGBT+ community
Hestia provides a free-to-download mobile app, Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.
Chayn provides online help and resources in a number of languages, ranging from identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those being abused.
Support if you are worried about hurting someone
If you are worried about hurting the ones you love while staying at home, call the Respect Phoneline for support and help to manage your behaviour, 0808 8024040.
Support for professionals
SafeLives is providing guidance and support to professionals and those working in the domestic abuse sector, as well as additional advice for those at risk.