Coronavirus (COVID 19) is impacting upon everyone around the globe as more and more of us are asked to stay at home. Home is not always a safe place. Reported cases of domestic abuse are increasing and services like ours are seeing a rise in those who wish to access our services for advice and support. We know that many of you will feel unsafe and be frightened at having to stay at home with the abuser. We want to reassure you that we are here for you. Our support is non-judgemental, we will not tell you what to do but ask what you want to do and give you information to help you make choices about your future. 

You are not responsible for the abuse that you are experiencing and you can’t stop the abuse – only the abuser can do this. There are things that you can do that may improve your safety and the safety of others, including children, but this is not guaranteed. Remember, you will have the best understanding of the abuser’s behaviour, so only do what you think will help. 

This page outlines things you can do to increase your safety in the home and tips for safely managing child contact. For tips on how to cope during the pandemic or for information about what you can do as a community, please see our COVID 19 - Coping Techniques and Coronavirus - The Community Response blogs.

Increasing your safety in the home

  • Call 999 in the event of an emergency. If you are unable to speak or are worried speaking will put you in further danger press 55 – this will put you through to your local police team
  • Make sure in an emergency children or any other dependants know to call 999 and what  information they would need to give (their full name, address and telephone number), identify the safest place in your home for them to be or identify a way out for them and somewhere to go depending on their age.
  • Plan what you will do and where you and your dependants, including children can go in an emergency and it is unsafe to remain in your home – if you are in a built up area banks and petrol stations are currently open. If you are living in a rural area there may be a shop open for essentials where you could access help
  • Plan an escape route from every room in your home.
  • Think of a safe area in your home to go if an argument happens. Stay away from rooms with no exits, hard surfaces, or where there are objects which can be used as weapons e.g. the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Think about how you can communicate with others to ask for help, could you write a note for someone who is delivering your shopping, are you able to set up a code word with friends / family so they can call the police on your behalf?
  • If you can, keep curtains and blinds open and as the weather improves try and keep windows open – sound will travel further and others will be more likely to call the police for you if you are in danger.
  • Make a list of safe people to contact. If possible memorise all important phone numbers, including your local domestic abuse services so that if the abuser takes your phone you still have numbers to call for help and support. If you have a mobile phone, keep it charged on with you at all times. 
  • If you suffer injuries, try to access a GP / hospital as soon as possible, if you are unable to leave your home you can call 111.
  • Leave the house to purchase essentials if you can – use this time to ask for help and access services
  • If you are looking online for services or browsing from your phone – do this in a private or secret mode – to read more about how to browse safely, please see our browse safely page.
  • Consider accessing support services and legal advice to discuss what options are available to you

Child Contact

Child Contact can be difficult and worrying as abuser can use child contact arrangements as a way of seeking power and control, this may worsen in our current circumstances as abusers are likely to use coronavirus as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour. 

Guidance in relation to family court child arrangement orders is available. Although the guidance is not specific to domestic abuse it does give advice on what to do if parents cannot agree on safe arrangements. 

Read the Guidance

If you are having to make changes as to how the abuser has contact with the children, be mindful of your safety and think about what personal information you wish to share. If the abuser does not have your current address, phone number or e-mail, do not pass these on. You can create a new e-mail address for the purpose of child-contact only during this time. If you share photos be mindful to turn the location settings off on your phone so these do not identify your address in any way. You do not have to allow the abuser into your home - always call 999 in an emergency.