VICTIMS of domestic abuse are being reassured that support is still available for them amid fears of a rise in incidents as households are confined during the coronavirus lockdown.
In response, police and other organisations across Dorset have been raising awareness.
A new campaign launched digitally by the county’s force is highlighting types of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial abuse, and how victims can access help and support.
Supt Gemma Morris said: “Sadly, Covid-19 may cause a rise in domestic abuse and the cycle of violence may intensify with people having to isolate themselves, and those who may be experiencing it may be unsure how to access support.
“We are committed to the safety of children and families experiencing domestic abuse and it is important that victims know how and where to get advice and support.”
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martyn Underhill is responsible for delivering victim care in the area, working closely with partner agencies.
He said: “We’re in an unprecedented situation and we have to prepare for all eventualities, which unfortunately includes the possibility that a period of mass isolation means we’ll see an increase in cases of domestic abuse.
“Sadly, some children could be safer when they attend school regularly, as teachers are able to spot signs that something might be wrong at home and report this to the authorities.
“I want to reassure victims that despite the current uncertainty, support is still available for them and they don’t need to wait for lockdown or self-isolation to end before they get help.”
People are being reminded that violence is not the only factor in domestic abuse, with the new offences of coercive and controlling behaviour also part of it.
Mr Underhill added: “If you’re experiencing any form of abuse you do not have to put up with it, and even if you don’t want to report it to the police there is a wide range of support available to you, such as the Victim Support Live Chat service.”
Domestic abuse support
Those who believe they or their children are in immediate danger should call 999. In a non-emergency, crimes can be reported 24 hours a day by calling 101 or by using the 101 webchat or online crime reporting form both at www.dorset.police.uk.
Support services available across Dorset include You First (0800 032 5204), Poole Outreach (24 hours – 01202 710 777) and Bournemouth Outreach (24 hours – 01202 547 641).
Victim Support provides emotional and practical help to victims in Dorset. For more information about the free and confidential service, which also provides a live chat web-based support service 24 hours a day visit here.
Help from the Dorset team can be obtained by calling 0300 3030 163 9am-6.30pm Monday to Friday.
The National Domestic Violence Helpline is a freephone service available on 0808 2000247 24 hours a day. Visit www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk.
Advice for domestic abuse victims and the professionals supporting them is available from the Safe Lives organisation here.
Women’s Aid can also be found at www.womensaid.org.uk and has an email and online chat room operational from 10am to midday Monday to Friday.
The 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline can be called on 0808 2000 247, and there is also the Respect helpline (0808 802 4040).
Crimes can be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.