Coronavirus: if you face domestic violence during the lockdown, this is what to do
A Sussex domestic abuse charity has expressed concern about people living with domestic abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.
Safe in Sussex is a Worthing-based charity that gives advice and support to those in domestic violence situations across West Sussex.
After the Government announced a nationwide lockdown that involves many adults and children staying at home, questions were raised about how this could impact people living with abusive or controlling partners or family members.
Louise Gisbey, spokeswoman for Safe in Sussex, said: "We are concerned about people living with domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic, as home is not always a safe place for people and perpetrators may use the infection control measures as a way of controlling and coercive behaviour. Although our face to face support in the community has stopped, we are still offering telephone support and actively looking at how we can continue to support people in other ways such as online."
The charity also runs Amber House in New Road, Littlehampton, thought to be the country's first public women's refuge.
While the drop-in service there was closed, Louise said the refuge itself was 'still operating and keeping people safe remains a priority for the charity'.
West Sussex County Council, which works with Safe in Sussex, published its own advice on Saturday, March 21 that Louise endorsed.
The first was to speak to a trusted neighbour, family member or friend and arrange a safe word and emoji that can be texted to them quickly in an emergency so they know to contact 999. Keep phones topped up, charged and accessible.
The council recommended downloading personal safety phone apps like Hollie, which can silently contact designated people with a shake or tap of a phone. It can also work if deceleration, impact or non-movement is detected.
If in a situation where violence is escalating, try to move away from the kitchen where there are sharp or heavy objects and stay close to the exits or any lockable rooms you can barricade yourself in while you get help.
Asking family members or friends to regularly check up on you online or over the phone is also useful, and a good way to offset the pressure self-isolation and hard times impose on mental health.
If you are in immediate danger, call 999.
You can contact Safe in Sussex Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4pm on 0330 333 7416, or by emailing [email protected] More information can be found at safeinsussex.org.
Contact the council's WORTH Domestic Abuse Hub on 0330 222 8181 or CONNECT in Worthing and Crawley on 01403 229017.