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Regardless of age, economic status, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or ability, domestic abuse is present.

While it is not just women who experience inter-personal violence and abuse, women are considerably more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of abuse, including sexual abuse.

Women are also more likely to be murdered by an abuser. Two women are killed each week by a partner in England and Wales.

Due to the disproportionate ways in which domestic abuse affects women, it is sometimes described as a gendered crime.

Perpetrators are responsible for abuse

The rise in reported cases of domestic abuse means it has been featured heavily in the news; however, after Covid compelled us to stay home, it became more difficult to escape. Regardless, we must remember that Covid-19 did not cause domestic abuse and that the responsibility always lies with the perpetrator. The pandemic saw existing cases of abuse intensify, with perpetrators using lockdown measures as a new way to coerce and control, along with routes of escape being limited.

A case of domestic abuse against a woman was reported to West Midlands Police every 17 minutes in the first month of lockdown. Many more cases go unreported.

Although these figures are distressing, we are driven by the strength and determination of the women we support. Change can be made when we understand a problem and those who need it are given the right support.

What needs to happen

Awareness

Domestic abuse and its lasting impact can alter people’s lives in multiple and complex ways, meaning survivors may need access to various kinds of support.

With the pandemic over, the after-effects of lockdown means that it has become easier for workplaces and free time to become restricted to staying at home. However, now there are resources that allow you to socialise safely, and if that’s not possible, then reaching out to support networks in a safe, confidential way.

Anawim’s free helpline is available on 0800 019 8818 for anyone who identifies as a woman, providing a safe and confidential resource to speak with a specialist female caseworker about violence and abuse, as well as mental health, addiction, finances, housing, families and relationships and anything else.

Sometimes it can be difficult for people to see when domestic abuse is happening; please share these resources in case someone you know may need them.

While our own services are specialised for women, anyone can experience domestic abuse. Respect run a free helpline for men on 0808 8010327.

LGBT+ and anti-violence charity Galop provide a national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans+ domestic abuse helpline on 0800 999 5428. They can also provide support for those who have experienced hate crime and sexual violence.

Responsibility

Increased isolation means it’s more vital than ever that we check in on our friends, family members and colleagues. Domestic abuse takes place at all levels of society and it’s important to look out for warning signs that might indicate someone is in danger.

75% of adults experiencing domestic abuse are targeted at work. Employers should also take responsibility to address domestic abuse, signposting to appropriate services. Employers can sign up to Women’s Aid’s domestic abuse training to support employees experiencing similar challenges – find out more HERE.

Sustainability

Organisations that provide these vital services need the security of sustainable funding. A few years ago, Anawim was involved in a report by Women’s Budget Group highlighting the £10m funding gap Women’s Centres face from next year. You can read more about this here.