You are not alone. That’s the message Calderdale Council wants to send to anyone experiencing or feeling at risk of domestic abuse at this difficult time.
The COVID-19 lockdown period unfortunately brings greater risks to vulnerable people. With more time spent at home and heightened tension, there is increasing concern about domestic abuse in our communities.
Physical violence, controlling behaviour and abuse that is sexual, verbal, emotional, online or economic, all count as domestic abuse.
Cllr Adam Wilkinson, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said:
“Domestic abuse can have devastating impacts for individuals, families and communities. No matter how challenging the COVID-19 situation is, we will never tolerate this terrible behaviour.
“If you are facing domestic abuse, or if you’re feeling greater fear and anxiety that it might happen to you at this time, please don’t suffer in silence. You are not alone and you should never put up with it.
“We urge you to find the courage to come forward and seek support and help, which is continuing throughout the pandemic.
“We also encourage anyone who is worried about someone else to report their concerns. As signs can be more hidden at this time due to social distancing, we all need to be extra aware. Safeguarding is everyone’s business and we all have a role to look out for each other and speak up if something doesn’t seem right.”
Safeguarding remains a priority for the Council and other agencies. In the Council’s 10-point plan on its response to COVID-19, point three is to target support at key vulnerable groups to reduce inequalities, due to an increase in safeguarding and vulnerability issues.
The Council continues to work with other organisations to raise awareness of domestic abuse and urge residents to speak out if they are suffering. Calderdale Domestic Abuse Partnership includes the Council, West Yorkshire Police, health services, White Ribbon, WomenCentre and a range of other partners.
The Council, the Police, health services and voluntary organisations have daily conference calls to share information and assess those at risk from domestic abuse following reported incidents.
Calderdale has Independent Domestic Violence Advisors as part of the Domestic Violence Hubs to offer advice and support. Their role is to ensure the safety of victims at high risk of harm from partners, ex-partners or other family members to protect them and their children. As part of the support, victims receive information and advice on practical and emotional issues.
The Council-funded refuge / accommodation support and the Calderdale Staying Safe service remain available to help victims of Domestic Abuse in Calderdale. They are doing their work remotely, such as through video and phone calls, to meet social distancing and safety requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak.
WomenCentre in Halifax, through Calderdale Staying Safe, provides support for all victims of domestic abuse, as well as wider specialist services for women and their families. Angela Everson, Chief Executive of WomenCentre, said:
“All victims of domestic abuse and their children never have been and never will be safe in their homes. Now more than ever they need access to support. To anyone who needs help, this is my message to you: ‘Our team of specialist Domestic Abuse workers is ready to help you. You will not be judged in any way and will be listened to and supported. Your safety and that of your children is our first concern.’”
Where to get support:
In an emergency / if you are in immediate danger, ring 999.
If you are in danger and cannot talk on the phone, dial 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will help without you having to speak.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know is being abused and it’s during the evening or at the weekend, call 01422 288000.
To find out more about victims’ services in West Yorkshire, including to victims who do not want to report to the Police, visit www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact WomenCentre, visit https://womencentre.org.uk/services/domestic-violence-support-team or call 01422 386500.
The Government has issued national guidance on domestic abuse during the pandemic: Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for victims of domestic abuse.
Local guidance is available at Calderdale Council – domestic violence and abuse.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline website provides guidance and support for potential victims, as well as those who are worried about friends and loved ones. It can also be called, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247. The website also has a form through which people can book a safe time for a call from the team.
The Council urges everyone in Calderdale to follow the Government guidance on Staying at home and away from others. This is the single most important thing you can do to protect the NHS and save lives. As well as social distancing, you can reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by washing your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face and follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ guidance.
Keeping well, physically and mentally, is really important when social distancing. There are lots of things you can do to stay active and still practise social distancing – go to https://active.calderdale.gov.uk/ for some great ideas. Equally, make sure you look after your mental health – visit nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters for advice.