THERE WITH YOU: Domestic abuse charity ‘still there for victims’ during lockdown

Next Link are still supporting victims during lockdown. Picture taken before social distancing guide

Next Link are still supporting victims during lockdown. Picture taken before social distancing guidelines. - Credit: Next Link

As North Somerset enters another week in lockdown, charities have reiterated their mission to help victims.

Next Link logo.

Next Link logo. - Credit: Next Link

Domestic abuse cases in North Somerset have seen a rise over the past year as charities warn that the Government’s lockdown could cause a further increase.

According to the latest Home Office data, Avon and Somerset Constabulary recorded 10,432 domestic abuse-related incidents in 2018-19.

As the Prime Minister announced a country-wide lockdown last month due to the coronavirus panedmic, many charities have raised concerns that many victims are trapped with their abusers.

Domestic abuse rally.

Domestic abuse rally. - Credit: Next Link


A joint statement from Women’s Aid, End Violence Against Women and others warned that Covid-19 will have serious impacts on the lives of women and children as ‘home is not always a place of safety’. They said: “We know perpetrators will use infection control measures as a tool of coercive and controlling behaviour.” South West based domestic abuse charity, Next Link, has also confirmed its fears that the coronavirus pandemic may trigger a spike in domestic abuse cases throughout the region. Next Link has also reiterated its mission to help anyone who may be suffering, and provide emergency accommodation, even during the lockdown. Sarah O’Leary said: “Our single point of contact for victims who want support or for friends, family or professionals who want to refer is 08004 700280.

“A lot of our staff are working from home but we can still help people with their safety and immediate support. We can support people with emergency accommodation, legal advice, their safety and more.” Sarah added: “We are very aware that some victims have told us the risk to them has been increased. We are still here to support their safety.” The charity has operated within North Somerset since April, though they have worked in Bristol and South Gloucestershire for more than 20 years, helping some of the 10,432 mentioned in the Home Office’s finding. However, they know people are still suffering in silence. Sarah said: “We know how hard it is for a victim to make the first step. It is extremely brave and hard to reach out for support. We recognise that victims have been suffering in silence for a long time and will be during this isolation period.”

Sarah confirmed that the charity had already noticed an increase in victim referrals before lockdown where “victims will be trapped alongside the perpetrators.”

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She added: “If the home is not a safe place then victims can still leave and we will help them do so during this period. This is still a priority.”

Elsewhere, a Government spokesperson has insisted that they understand victims and survivors may feel even more vulnerable and urged anyone in immediate danger to call 999.