Male victims of domestic abuse
Charities dealing with men who suffer domestic abuse have, according to recently highlighted statistics BBC news, seen requests for help jump by up to 60% during the Covid 19 lockdown period. These follow on the back of the sharp rise in the numbers of women seeking similar help and support during the last six months.
There is little doubt that the Covid 19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the lives of many: societal, economic, physical and mental health, and that the impact has been greatest on some of the most vulnerable in our communities, including victims. Many organisations that offer support have had to adapt by changing their approach to how they deliver this support: face to face meetings have been overwhelmingly abandoned in favour of more remote forms of support via telephone or the internet.
The changes have, undoubtedly, been positive in some respects but have negative impacts in others. Our own recent survey paints a nuanced picture SuJu survey; some people welcome the opportunity to be supported remotely whilst others feel the absence of a reassuring physical presence.
The key thing to learn from all this is that support must, as far as possible, continue to be available to people when and how they most need it – and this requires flexibility, commitment and, crucially, resources. The financial constraints that have hit all sectors of the economy have had a telling impact on the victim support sector over the course of this pandemic – and the sector was already suffering from the effects of ten years of austerity. As we approach, potentially, another period of limited contact with others it is crucial that the most vulnerable are not forgotten. As Frances Ryan reports in the Guardian (Frances Ryan) , as the fear of the spread of Covid across Britain grows, ministers have, so far, had very little to say about the millions of those most at risk. This will include many experiencing domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse has devastating effects on those subjected to it: it undermines feelings of safety, security (personal and financial), impacts on families and, of course, wider society. And whether it is a man, woman or those who may not identify as either being subjected to it can cause lasting and traumatic damage. We must do all we can to make sure that those who have responsibility for our wellbeing and safety take those responsibilities seriously. That means providing adequate resources for support services and, in relation to domestic abuse, provision of resources to deliver effective programmes of education and rehabilitation to make sure that those who perpetrate domestic abuse have the chance to be rehabilitated and that we are all more aware of domestic abuse can be prevented in the first place.
The provision of safe spaces and refuges are an integral part of dealing with the aftermath of domestic abuse as are wider support services. But just as important is the availability of wider educational and rehabilitation programmes to minimise the occurrences of abuse in the first place. That should be a clear message that we take from today’s new reports.