Coronavirus safety advice for survivors
Try and keep a mobile phone with you at all times.
If you need support:
- Always dial 999 if you are in immediate danger/in an emergency
- Adult social care first response team and children's safeguarding - call 01925 443322 (out of hours 01925 444400)
Refuge domestic abuse helpline - in confidence, 24-hours a day, call free on 0808 2000 247.
- Call 101 if you think a crime has been committed
Help and support
Some local support services in the community may be temporarily suspended because of Coronavirus. This will mean that some survivors will feel particularly isolated. If you were accessing counselling that has now been suspended, some counselling services can continue to provide support. Supportline provide a confidential telephone helpline and email counselling service. Particularly to those at risk of abuse or are isolated.
Women’s Aid is continuing to provide the following services:
- The Survivors’ Forum is an online resource for survivors of domestic abuse. The Survivors’ forum can be accessed 24/7. This is a place where survivors can support each other and share their experiences.
- Women’s Aid Live Chat is currently available Monday to Friday 10- 12pm. This could be a safer way to access some support, particularly if an abuser might also be in the property so it would be unsafe to make a telephone call.
- Women’s Aid email service is still operating and can also provide support.
- Detailed information about national and local support services womensaid.org.uk/information-support
- Women’s Aid also provides essential guidance if you are using online platforms womensaid.org.uk/cover-your-tracks-online/
For details of other organisations that can give you help gov.uk/report-domestic-abuse
Thinking of leaving?
Leaving might feel particularly difficult at the moment and you might be worried about having to leave your home in an emergency. If possible, pack an emergency bag for you and your children and keep it somewhere safe. Try to include essential things such as medication, identification, money or cards.
Due to the government’s self- isolation and social distancing rules, staying with family and friends might not be an option. You might be finding it harder to secure somewhere safe to stay. We can give you information about your housing rights.
A Domestic Violence Protection Order can remove a perpetrator from your home and stop them from making contact with you for up to 28 days. An Occupation Order is an injunction that removes an abusers’ rights to stay in the family home. Find out more information on Protection and Occupation orders from Rights of Women.
Familiarise yourself with The Silent Solution system. This is a system for victims of domestic abuse who might be afraid of further danger and escalation of harm if they are overheard when calling 999 in an emergency.
When somebody calls 999, an operator will ask which emergency service is required. If the caller is unable to audibly signal to the operator, the call will be forwarded to an operating system. If 55 is pressed by the caller, the system will detect this. The operator will then transfer the call to the relevant police force as an emergency.
Child contact arrangements are of particular concern to many survivors at the moment. Perpetrators have always used child contact arrangements as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour, and are likely to use Coronavirus as a way to threaten not following their contact arrangements.
Survivors are also concerned that they will be accused of breaching a court order by not allowing contact. If a survivor has concerns around the family court, take a look at the CAFCASS website for guidance.
If you are concerned about your financial situation, contact Turn2us. They help people to access money through welfare benefits and grants. Their website has an income-related benefits checker enabling you to check that you are receiving all of the benefits you are entitled to.
Your abuser might be using your immigration status against you. If you need some guidance you could contact the Immigration Advice service offer expert legal advice on all aspects of immigration, asylum and nationality issues.
The NHS has also confirmed that you won’t be charged for the diagnosis or treatment of coronavirus. This applies to everyone living in the UK, regardless of your immigration status.
Emergency SMS provides a text message service for deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired people in the UK to send SMS messages to the UK 999 service where it will be passed to the Police.
Worried about a friend, family member or neighbour?
You might be particularly concerned about a family member or a friend at the moment if they will be at home with their abuser. Always encourage them to call 999 in an emergency.
Do not approach the perpetrator about their behaviour, this could escalate the abuse and put them in further danger. It is also important that you do not put yourself in a dangerous situation.