Domestic violence in the UK has drastically increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, “The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that 1.6 million women and 757,000 men had experienced domestic abuse between March 2019 and March 2020, with a 7% growth in police-recorded domestic abuse crimes’’, according to the House of Commons, United Kingdom.
This post has a UK focus, although disturbing stats on domestic violence are also being noted in other countries.
On domestic violence stats in the UK
The survey mentioned above highlights that it is difficult to gauge the direct impact of lockdown on this increase, and a rise in third-party reporting could partly explain this. However, the statistics certainly seem to suggest that lockdown saw a noticeable uptick in domestic abuse cases.
In response to these sad and troubling statistics, the UK government has produced the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, which aims to raise awareness and increase support for victims and for those at risk within a legal framework. As well as establishing new laws around domestic abuse, this act also seeks to extend some current laws for greater family protection.
What is classed as domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse includes physical or emotional abuse, controlling behaviour, harassment, sexual and online abuse. Anyone can be a victim, and the effects can be long-lasting and traumatic. Domestic abuse often occurs within relationships or is perpetrated by an ex-partner.
In the most extreme cases, some women who suffer physical abuse can even be killed by their partner or ex. Statistics show that 59% of femicides committed by current or former partners had a history of abuse.
Many often find it difficult to leave an abusive relationship for reasons such as fear, lack of financial or emotional support, shame and denial and the impact it might have on other family members, including children. Often, victims are ashamed to admit they are suffering from domestic abuse. Some other women don’t realise they are in a controlling or coercive relationship. These factors can all contribute to someone being unwilling to seek help.
Read Arletta Allen’s powerful story as a survivor of domestic violence here
Victims of domestic abuse in the UK
Victims are most often women who suffer domestic abuse from a man. However, anyone of any age, gender, ethnicity, or social class can be at risk. Statistics show that women in low-income households are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse, and there is also a link with drug and alcohol abuse.
Children are often indirect victims of domestic abuse, with approximately 14% of young people under 18 living with domestic violence at some point during their childhood. This shows the importance of protecting the wider family when it comes to encouraging victims to seek help and support.
Protecting yourself against domestic abuse
It’s important for victims to realise that they are protected by law, and there is legal aid available for those suffering domestic abuse.
If someone is in an abusive relationship, there is help available, regardless of status and a free, national helpline operates 24/7. The police are able to issue short-term Domestic Violence Police Notices, which can offer protection from the abuser and allow the victim to seek a safe place.
10 thoughts on “Domestic violence in the UK: A pandemic within the coronavirus pandemic”
I escaped my abusive relationship of fifteen years during the pandemic. I sometimes wonder if we had never been isolated together, and it became like a pressure cooker at home, whether I would have ever found the courage to leave.
Look ahead and make the most of every day as you heal, dear Emma
It’s a sad commentary on society.
When I was young, I watched my step father break my mom’s arm during a fight.
No wonder I gravitated to a creative peaceful man & his talented intellectual family of artists.
I am glad you did not follow that same cycle. I’m sorry to hear what happened to your mom. I am so glad you found love, both with yourself and with your partner xo
Thank you, Christy, for highlighting this important issue. It seems like the pandemic has unleashed social issues associated with rage.
You’re right about anger coming to the surface, Linnea.
Sorry, Christy! Have to comment with my Twitter account, because WP.com let me use their account (since some weeks). ;-( Thanks for mentioning this very important topic. Only public discussion can prevent domestic violence. Especially children are harmed too. I hope you are well, and enjoy the season of your state, with the impressive maple leaf. ;-) xx Michael
It really does impact the whole family. Thanks for commenting here as you’re right that the more we talk about it the more help there can be… Sorry to hear about your WP issue, but good that your Twitter account works for comments now!