Domestic abuse charity worker reveals women’s cries for help during lockdown – The Sun

DOMESTIC abuse charity Women’s Aid has launched a campaign to highlight a nationwide increase of the problem in lockdown.

Called The Lockdown, the charity is calling for an emergency cash injection of at least £48.2million to support its national Live Chat service and national network of local domestic abuse services to protect women and children during the crisis.

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The estimated social and economic cost of domestic abuse in England and Wales is £66billion per year.

On average three women are murdered a fortnight by their current or ex-partner in England and Wales and 1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse last year.

The use of Women’s Aid’s Live Chat service is up by 41 per cent since March 19. With just SIX dedicated Live Chat workers it is struggling to keep up.

Here, Kat describes a typical two hours on the phone front line during the Covid-19 pandemic.

10am: The first message comes in. “I am having to self-isolate with my husband who bullies me.

"It is unbearable. I don’t think I can carry on like this any more. I keep having suicidal thoughts.”

A common theme in the messages has been among women who want to leave but aren’t sure whether it is a bigger risk to escape and get infected or stay and risk injury.

This woman will be at greater risk if she stays. She tells me she’d like to look for a refuge so I start the process of searching for vacancies.

10.15am: There are more and more women queuing on the lines and I know that some won’t even be permitted to join the call waiting system because it is overloaded.

We have been shown how to hide the “chat waiting” numbers because it can feel completely overwhelming and makes it difficult for us to focus on the call in hand.

10.44am: “My partner has underlying health conditions and has to isolate for 12 weeks.

"He has been getting worse day by day, and he tried to strangle me.

“I have been to A&E because of him before but I am too scared to say anything and he denies it to anyone who asks about my injuries.”

Some women just aren’t ready to speak to anyone official, including the police. All I can do is to reassure her that we are here.

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11.05am: Another message comes in. “I want to check if I can leave to stay with my sister.

"I have to get out of here but am worried I’ll get stopped by the police for leaving the house.”

This is another really common concern right now. Women are worried they will be stopped by the police and have to turn back if they are not believed.

11.28am: I’ve only been working on the Live Chat for an hour and half but it’s so intense.

Another message: “I am so relieved to speak to you over Live Chat. I can’t wait until he goes back to work again.

"I feel so alone and as if there is no way out.”

I reassure her that she is not alone and that there is a way out. Women’s Aid will help her find it.

11.38am: Every time I tell a woman I will try to help her find a refuge space I think about the terrible cuts to services over recent years which mean that fewer and fewer spaces are available.

Some refuges have closed and there is a lack of staff because so many people are having to self-isolate without testing.

11.58am: “I was going to leave but now he is here all the time, working from home. I can’t even make a phone call without him listening in.

“He’s drinking more on the nights. The abuse is getting worse and I’m so scared.”

I manage to establish that there are also children in this home. They will be picking up on the stress even if they are not being directly hurt.

Sometimes older children step in to try to protect their mothers and this can put them in danger.

Women's Aid

Women’s Aid offers confidential help and advice via Live Chat, email and on its forum.


To donate to the appeal for Live Chat, go to

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