Domestic violence: Leeds-based charity fears more women will suffer during second Covid-19 lockdown

A Leeds-based charity which supports victims of domestic abuse fears the second national coronavirus lockdown will lead to more women suffering at the hands of violent partners.

Monday, 9th November 2020, 6:00 am

There was a 24 per cent increase in the number of women referred to the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor Service run by Inspire North during a six-month period this year compared to 2019.

In the six months between April 2019 to September 2019 there were 724 referrals to the service compared to 898 for the same six month period in 2020.

Sinead Cregan, director for development and innovation at Inspire North, said lockdown plays into the hands of abusers and is urging people to report suspected offenders to the police.

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Inspire North runs a women's refuge on the North East of England, which has seen a steep increase in demand for places.

Miss Cregan said lockdown gives abusers the opportunity to cut off communication by stopping victims using mobile phones, landlines, tablets and laptops.

Miss Cregan said: "We see that all the time. It is not just the physical violence, it is also all the threats.

"Women may have had the chance to flee when the abuser went to work.

"Lockdown makes it much more difficult for women to leave because the abuser is there a lot more than they may have been previously."

"If you are a neighbour and you can hear that abuse is taking place we are asking people not to ignore that abuse and call the police.

"You could stop someone from being physically harmed or even killed.

"The lockdowns have been one of the biggest threats to anyone who is being abused within the home because they are locked down with their abuser.

"Lockdown plays into the hands of the abuser because it gives them the opportunity to cut off all the victim's support.

"For many people being locked down with their family or partner can be a positive experience, but if you are locked down with an abuser then it is the absolute opposite. It can be the victim's worst nightmare."

Miss Cregan is urging anyone being subjected to domestic abuse to dial 999, remain silent on the call and then press 55 and the operator will send the police as they will know someone is being abused.

Inspire North was established in 2018 when it brought together the works of charities Community Links and Foundation.

Now the parent organisation, it finds ways to provide services in mental health, wellbeing, housing and domestic abuse across the north of England.

Helpline numbers:

Leeds Women’s Aid 0113 246041

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

Respect, the helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse 0808 8024040.