According to police figures, Domestic Abuse in Cornwall and Devon has increased by more than 10% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The updated government definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse is currently “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.”
It is important to further recognise that abuse can encompass, but not be limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional control/ manipulation.
A report released by Women’s Aid stated that 61% of women who were living with their abuser in the UK said the “abuse had worsened.” Furthermore, those who have been experiencing abuse in a family setting also said that there was an increase in abusive behaviour towards their children.
Even though Domestic Abuse is more frequently experienced by women, male victims have also been affected. According to the ManKind Initiative, a charity in Britain that offers support to male victims, there was a 35% increase in call volumes in comparison to pre-lockdown periods. There was a further spike in website traffic, with the most popular pages on the site being ‘signs of domestic abuse in men’ and ‘statistics on male victims.’
In Cornwall, the same trends are apparent; domestic abuse has been on the rise since the first lockdown.
Abby Louise Blackman is the Recovery Pathway Co-ordinator for First Light, a Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence charity. She entailed that the charity had also seen a rise in referrals; “We have seen an increase in referrals over the last year, especially in between the lockdowns.
“We can imagine that it is incredibly difficult for someone who is in lockdown with their abuser and to find the time to reach out to charities like ours, that’s why our hotline team are so important and amazing!”
First Light has also adapted their services to help overcome the challenges Covid-19 has thrown up. As well as offering crisis support for victims’ currently experiencing abuse, emotional support for those who have experienced abuse in the past and services such as one-to-one therapy and group support, virtual support has also been recently been introduced.
“All of the teams have adapted services offered during the pandemic – including virtual support, which has been received well.
“One of the main benefits of offering virtual support is breaking down the location barrier, as there have always been gaps in provision around North Cornwall.
“The coverage on Domestic Abuse during the pandemic is indeed positive, however, we need to ensure the safety of victims with realistic plans and more understanding of their position. Further literature on Domestic Abuse patterns and control and extra funding would be a start – people need to be educated on emotionally abusive relationships and what that can do to a partner.”
If you or anyone you know is a victim of Domestic Abuse or Sexual Violence, below are contact details of how to get help. Many services will also be able to answer any questions if you are concerned, confused or unsure about your relationship:
Number: 0300 777 4 777
Cornwall Refuge Trust
Number: 01872 225629
The Women’s Centre Cornwall
Number: 01208 77099
National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Number: 0808 2000 257