THE Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt has launched a new campaign to make sure victims and survivors of domestic abuse know they are not alone, and that they can access support through the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.
The campaign will also encourage bystanders to recognise the signs of domestic abuse, and to seek support for those who are unable to get help themselves.
During the coronavirus lockdown, the number of domestic abuse homicides has increased. Social isolation has made it easier for abusers to control their victims, and more difficult for victims to seek help while they are under the scrutiny of their abusers.
Jane Hutt said: “I’m launching the ‘Home shouldn’t be a place of fear’ campaign today to let victims of violence and abuse know that we are here to help.
“Shop assistants, postal workers, delivery drivers, community volunteers, friends and neighbours might be a victim’s only point of contact during coronavirus lockdown, so it’s really important that they can recognise the signs of domestic abuse. I would urge you all to be more vigilant at this time – support is available.
“We know that the current situation has increased the risk for victims. Now is a very frightening time. Whether you are experiencing abuse, or you’re concerned for a relative, a friend, your next door neighbour, work colleague, or someone you are assisting through these challenging times, everyone has the right to be safe and to live fear free.
“It’s important that bystanders should seek help in a safe way though, for their own safety and that of the victim of abuse. Don’t intervene – instead call the Live Fear Free helpline, or call 999 if you think someone is in immediate danger. Welsh Women’s Aid has also launched a Bystander Toolkit, providing information advice and resources for anyone concerned about a victim of violence or abuse.
“Getting help might be more difficult at the moment, but I want you to know that help and support is still available. You will not be in trouble if you need to leave your home to stay safe.
“We are working closely with Public Health Wales, Welsh Police forces, councils, charities, and specialist organisations involved in providing domestic abuse services to ensure those fleeing abuse have a safe place to go.
“You can access support by text, email, live chat or phone. The police will also respond to a ‘silent 999’ call – dial 999 as normal, and when the operator responds, press 55. You don’t need to speak, the police will respond.
“You are not alone.”
Welsh Government has also announced an online e-learning course to help you recognise the signs of domestic abuse, and understand how you can help. It’s available here – https://learning2.wales.nhs.uk/course/view.php?id=71
Welsh Women’s Aid CEO Sara Kirkpatrick said: “Welsh Women’s Aid are pleased to be working with Welsh Government to link in with their ‘home shouldn’t be a place of fear’ campaign. We know that unfortunately self-isolation and social distancing may increase all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, and is having a profound effect on survivors’ safety and wellbeing.
“Community responses and social solidarity is more vital than ever in tackling VAWDASV. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of supportive messages from communities, but we need to ensure that we are always responding in the safest and most effective way possible for survivors.
“To help with this, we have developed a Bystander toolkit, consisting of specific advice and information tailored for various members of the community from volunteers to employers as well as individuals, to effectively signpost and support survivors. We hope that both campaigns will inspire Wales to stand with survivors and assure survivors that they are not alone and there is help available.”
Anyone experiencing violence or abuse at home, or concerned about someone, the free, confidential Live Fear Free helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.