Find out more about our new charity partner and how you can get involved to support them
In this third lockdown, we’ve asked ourselves what we can do to help people directly affected in our community. We’ve partnered with charity Women’s Aid to raise awareness and funds to support those who are experiencing domestic abuse.
“Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic did not cause domestic abuse, it has created a perfect storm of challenges for survivors and the services supporting them,” says Sarah Davidge, Research and Evaluation manager at Women’s Aid.
“As survivors and their children face escalating abuse and increasingly complex barriers to support, and at a time when public services are diverted by COVID-19, the need for specialist domestic abuse services has never been more critical,” explains Nicki Norman, acting Chief Executive at Women’s Aid.
Funding for these services has been especially affected. “Women’s domestic abuse support services were already facing a funding crisis when this pandemic hit,” explains Nicki. “They had little or no financial resilience to meet the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, and now vital services are experiencing a significant financial impact.”
Here at Women’s Running, we’re hoping to help as many people as possible who going through this difficult situation. We’re hosting a virtual 5K run on the 28th February to raise money for Women’s Aid. You can find out more on our new Women’s Running Run Club Facebook group, or click here for more info and to make your donation.
If you’d like to find out more about the impact of COVID-19 on domestic abuse and support services, read on for a report from Women’s Aid. To make a donation, or to sign up to run for the charity, visit their website.
Sign up to run 5K with us on 28 February below, and we’ll send you a free digital copy of our January 2021 edition of the magazine!
A Perfect Storm – The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic abuse survivors and the services supporting them.
This report shows how domestic abuse has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. It examines the impact on survivors; how abusers use the pandemic as a tool of abuse; and how the services supporting survivors are affected.
1) Impact on survivors
91% of respondents currently experiencing domestic abuse said the COVID-19 pandemic had negatively impacted in at least one way. Of those women living with their abuser during lockdown, 61% said the abuse had worsened. More than two-thirds (68%) said they felt they had no one to turn to during lockdown.
Survivors with children, who were currently experiencing abuse, told us things were also worse for their children. Over half (53%) told us their children had seen more abuse to the survivor. Over a third (38%) said that their abuser had shown an increase in abusive behaviour towards the children.
In April, during the height of the lockdown, over three quarters (78%) of women experiencing abuse at that time told us they thought COVID-19 made it harder for them to escape abuse. This was still a significant problem in June, in spite of easing lockdown measures:
- One in ten (10%) survivors told us that their abuser had actively used lockdown restrictions to stop them from leaving.
- One-fifth (20.3%) said that they had tried to leave during the pandemic but had been unable to access housing or refuge space
2) Tools of abuse
The report reveals how abusers have used the pandemic as a tool for abuse to increase fear and anxiety. 67% of women responding who were currently experiencing abuse said that COVID-19 had been used as part of the abuse they suffered in one or more ways.
Survivors talked about perpetrators disregarding concerns about the virus and ignoring restrictions. Some survivors talked about their abuser exploiting the lack of available support to increase control.
The pandemic also increased post-relationship abuse including perpetrators pressuring women into facilitating child contact even when this would breach lockdown and increase risk of contracting the virus. 38.3% said child contact arrangements have been used to further abuse, for example not returning children or restricting women’s access to their children.
3) Impact on domestic abuse services
The period from 23 March to 31 May 2020 saw a 40.6% reduction in the number of refuge vacancies in England, compared to the same period in 2019. The most common reasons were a lack of suitable move-on accommodation (67% of those with reduced availability) and concerns over managing the spread of the virus in communal accommodation (61% of those with reduced availability). Service providers expect to see a spike in demand across their services in the coming months with most (63%) expecting this spike to continue for at least a year.
How to access support from Women’s Aid
The Survivor’s Forum, a safe, anonymous space for women over 18 to share their experiences and support one another. The Survivor’s Handbook, providing practical support and information for women experiencing domestic abuse.
Love Respect, a dedicated website for young people in their first relationship, encouraging healthy relationships and helping to build a future where domestic abuse is no longer tolerated.