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Coronavirus: 'Worrying' drop in calls for domestic violence support

Woman pushing someone away Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Coronavirus isolation and worries are a "pressure cooker" for domestic abuse victims

There has been a "worrying" drop in calls for help from domestic violence victims during coronavirus lockdown, support workers say.

Middlesbrough abuse support charity My Sister's Place said it had half the normal number of requests last week.

The Harbour service in Hartlepool fears victims are living in a "pressure cooker" thinking services are closed.

Manager Danielle Chadwick said they might feel "they have no options, no support available".

Her service was "quite concerned that we haven't seen an increase so far", she said.

They are using other contact routes, such as social media, to make clear support was available.

"It's been described as a pressure cooker because not only is there is abuse present already but then we have the additional pressures of children not at school and everybody under one roof, lack of space, lack of social activities, mental health deteriorating," Ms Chadwick said.

Experts have already warned government isolation instructions are "likely" to cause a spike in cases.

Middlesbrough Council said "everything will still be done" to help those facing weeks alone with abusers.

Cleveland Police has said officers would still be prepared to enter people's homes where required, while doing their best to follow government distancing guidelines.

The force also reminded victims frightened of being overheard they can call 999 and then cough or dial 55. Operators are trained to know this means the caller needs help, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Middlesbrough Council domestic abuse lead Claire Moore said the impact of the crisis could be "devastating".

"Social distancing and isolation can leave victims and their children facing the prospect of being isolated at home with their perpetrator, and this can act as a catalyst in itself," she said.  

The authority said a number of services were still running and encouraged neighbours, friends or family to report concerns.

Services still running

My Sisters Place - 01642 241864, hello@mysistersplace.co.uk

Harbour Support Services  -03000 20 25 25, info@myharbour.org.uk

Halo - 01642 683045, info@haloproject.org.uk 

Thirteen Housing Advice Support Service - 0800 130 3667, customerservices@thirteengroup.co.uk 

Council adult safeguarding - 01642 065070 (emergency 01642 524552), adultaccessteam@middlesbrough.gov.uk 

Council children safeguarding - 01642 130700, southteesmach@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk 

Refuge - 08082 000247 (24hrs)

Women's Aid - chat.womensaid.org.uk

Respect Men's Advice Line - 08088 010327, infor@mensadviceline.org.uk

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