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The Impact Of Lockdown On Domestic Abuse


As the next national lockdown starts again, after we just started slowly settling into the new

‘normal’, many will be dreading the prospect of not going out to the pub or not being able

to see those they love. But unfortunately for some people they will be terrified of yet again

being imprisoned with their abuser. Lockdown will save many lives, but this article will

examine one of the terrible consequences.

One of the most important impacts is that on the freedom to leave or seek help. A lot of

women before lockdown might have been preparing to leave even making plans. But then

with the national lockdown restrictions put in place hastily in March these plans were

crushed. In the April survivor survey over three quarters of women said that Covid-19 made

it harder for them to escape abuse. As more people stayed at home, survivors found they

didn’t have a lot of privacy to make calls to those who could help or even leave the house to

see a friend. For those who wanted to leave there was many issues with private rental

accommodation or securing social housing. Even during the easing of restrictions, there was

still a lack of clarity from the government on what was allowed and what wasn’t. We need

to make sure that women’s safety is taken seriously in the coming weeks.

Abusers used lockdown as a way to isolate their victims further and as a tool for further

manipulation and controlling behaviour. In the June survivor survey, 66.7% of women said

that Covid-19 had been used as part of the abuse they suffered in one or more ways. Some

of this included increasing monitoring and surveillance of online activity as well as not

allowing them to go outside. Due to survivors being more isolated and away from their

normal support network, abusers exerted even more control as they knew the survivors had

no one to turn to. This was even worse for those who were shielding and were reliant on

their abusers to get food, medication and any other essentials. This meant that their lives

were in their hands. For those who didn’t comply with their abusers demands they would be

left without the essentials they needed for everyday life.

Unfortunately for some survivors, who have escaped and managed to slowly start

recovering after periods of abuse, the pandemic has triggered memories of abuse and

affected their mental health. For some survivors, wearing face coverings can trigger abuse

memories and re-awake the fear and the panic. You’re not required to wear a mask if it

causes you severe distress. However, as this exemption is not as visible as some, some

survivors might still get harassed for not wearing one and won’t feel comfortable explaining

their reasons. Furthermore, 12.5% of those who answered the April survivor survey said

that their abuser had gotten back in touch with them during the pandemic. This also

triggered past memories of abuse and made them feel even more isolated and vulnerable

enough that the abuse could start again in the future.

While we go through the lockdown and then hopefully soon easing out of it there must be

more provisions for women to escape abuse and seek help. We can’t allow them to be the

sacrifice of the pandemic.

The data from this article is from the report completed by Women’s Aid after the first


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