COVID-19 does not cause domestic abuse. Only abusers are responsible for their actions. However, the pandemic does threaten to escalate abuse and close down routes to safety for women to escape. It has put the spotlight on an existing crisis, which can no longer be ignored. Since the start of the pandemic Women’s Aid has assessed and monitored the impact of COVID-19 on survivors and the domestic abuse services supporting them.
Part 1 of this report looks at what survivors have told us about how the pandemic has affected perpetrator behaviour and their experiences of domestic abuse. This includes how lockdown measures have affected their ability to access support, both from specialist domestic abuse services and their informal support networks such as friends and family.
We know that children in households where there is domestic abuse do not just witness this abuse, they experience it in a very real way and the impacts can last into adulthood. Part 2 of this report looks at the specific impact the pandemic has had on child survivors.
To understand the choices available to women and children who are living with the trauma of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to know how the virus and lockdown measures have affected the specialist domestic abuse support sector. Part 3 of this report looks at what domestic abuse service providers have told us about the many different ways the pandemic has affected provision. This includes the impact the sector has seen on funding and sustainability; staff welfare; demand for and availability of services and the impact further down the line on demand and funding.