As the government urges people to stay at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, Bedfordshire Police is raising awareness of those where home may not be a place of safety, and who are at risk from, or carrying out, domestic abuse and violence.
The force is also asking families to come together, and use this time to work on defusing the potential for situations to escalate.
Raised levels of anxiety and stress, or even illness, in a home where relationships are under strain, can be a trigger point.
This is usually true during periods of extended time spent with the family, for example, school holidays or the Christmas break, but the national lockdown will bring the same issues to the surface.
It is also potentially a time of greater risk, when social distancing and isolation may encourage coercive and controlling behaviours, as stricter routines and fewer opportunities to get out become apparent.
Especially for those where going to work or school was a refuge from a situation at home.
Detective Inspector Lorraine Coombes, of the force’s Emerald unit, which investigates domestic abuse, said, “Staying home, or working from home, will bring many challenges. We all need to be aware how this will impact existing victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, and those who may now find themselves in such a situation, due to the exceptional circumstances upon us.
“In our daily lives, many of us will regularly be in contact with both perpetrators and victims, perhaps without realising. This could be a family member, friend or neighbour, or a work colleague. You are our eyes and ears, please don’t keep your concerns to yourself.
“Chances are if something doesn’t feel right it isn’t, and we will continue to investigate and support throughout this pandemic situation.”
There are things you can consider during the lockdown.
- If you are struggling, feeling overwhelmed with what’s happening, and are worried that you are taking it out on your partner or family, help is available.
- Taking time out might be difficult, but people are still able to leave the house for a walk if not ill, or self-isolating. Fresh air and a physical space can often defuse an escalating situation.
- If you are worried about someone else, do check in with them, but please be sensitive. If making a phone call to a suspected domestic abuse victim, always assume that the perpetrator could be listening in. The same goes for mobile, or instant messaging services.
Abuse in any form isn’t acceptable. If you have concerns about your own, or another person’s behaviour, or you fear for someone’s safety please contact Bedfordshire Police.
Call on 101, and always call 999 in an emergency.
Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
For more help and advice about domestic abuse, please visit the force’s information pages.