“Domestic abuse thrives on silence — as a community we all need to stand up and speak out” – that’s the message from the Isle of Wight Community Safety Partnership (CSP) at the start of a nationwide campaign to shine a light on all forms of domestic abuse.
The 16 Days of Action campaign focusses in particular on how employers can protect their employees by creating an environment where staff feel confident to disclose and companies have the skills and knowledge to support them.
It comes as a Women’s Aid Survivor Survey shows that abusers are using coronavirus to perpetuate abuse, and the abuse is escalating.
Teresa Brimble-Brennan, domestic abuse project officer for the Isle of Wight Council, said:
“With more people working from home we are seeing an increase in the risk of domestic violence.
“For the majority of us, home is a ‘safe place’ but this is not the case for everyone and working from home can increase the risks of domestic abuse which may already be present.
“One in four women, and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives — this could be a friend, family member, neighbour or even ourselves.
“During the last national lockdown, there was a surge in demand for domestic abuse services.
“While Covid-19 has not in itself caused domestic abuse, what the very necessary public health measures have done is to create a conducive context for it to happen.
“For many, this period has led to an escalation of violence and abuse, closed down routes for people to escape safely and made it more challenging to bring perpetrators to justice.”
Domestic abuse exists in many forms. Anyone who is forced to change their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s or family member’s reaction is experiencing abuse.
In the past, domestic abuse was seen as a private matter behind closed doors that was often ignored or excused. However, abusing, controlling or coercing a partner or family member is against the law.
Councillor Gary Peace, Cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said:
“The Isle of Wight Council is doing everything it can to support our residents, particularly the most vulnerable, during this difficult time.
“As a former police officer, who worked on a specialist domestic violence unit for four years investigating hate crimes, I am acutely aware that domestic abuse can devastate lives and with people cooped up due to coronavirus this is a particular threat at the moment.
“We are working closely with our partners in the police, NHS, voluntary sector and community groups to address the dangers that those affected by domestic abuse are facing.”
If you believe that you or someone you care about is being abused, or if you are worried that you are hurting your partner or family member with words or actions and want to take responsibility and change your behaviour, there are organisations that can help.
You First are offering free Dragonfly training everyday throughout the 16 Days of Action campaign and are happy to discuss the workshops with employers. Contact Sue Marsh for more information and to book your space – [email protected].
WightDASH are offering a taster 2-hour session for domestic abuse programmes via Zoom. Contact Fiona Gwinnett at [email protected] for more information.