The message from the Welsh Government is stark as lockdown rules give abusers more power
We’re all being asked to use our eyes and ears to help protect children and adults who face an increased risk of abuse during the Coronavirus lockdown period.
A statement from the Welsh Government says lockdown is making life more difficult for victims as isolation can allow abusers to exert more power and control, whether that involves violence, neglect or emotional abuse.
Be abuse aware
Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt said neighbours and communities need to act too:
“We know that enforced isolation can be used as a tool for coercive control, or as an excuse to inflict violence on victims. Lockdown also makes it more difficult to find someone to turn to for help.
“Under lockdown, the normal places of escape – school, friends’ houses, youth centres, colleges and universities, workplaces – are not available. It can be difficult for victims to get help, but specialist services are open, and ready to offer support.
“I want to reassure victims that you are not alone. Help is available, and I would encourage you to reach out, if you can. Specialist services are open and ready to support you.
“I also want to call on friends, neighbours, postal workers, delivery drivers and communities to act as the eyes and ears for victims of abuse who need help, but can’t get in contact because they are under the watchful eyes of their abuser.
“It is very important, for your safety and the victim’s, that you don’t intervene yourself, but there is lots of support available, and you can help by calling 999 in an emergency, Live Fear Free (contact details below) or the specialist services listed.”
Signs of abuse
The Minister pulled no punches in explaining what we need to look out for:
“Signs that abuse is happening behind closed doors could include repeated shouting, sounds of things being hit, smashed or broken, and continuing crying or pleas to stop. Victims might have cuts or bruises, look confused or dishevelled, or be anxious or withdrawn.
Where to report concerns
“If you suspect that someone, whether child or adult, is suffering abuse, harm, neglect, harassment, control, physical violence or emotional abuse at the hands of a family member or partner, please call the police if it’s an emergency, or seek support on Welsh Government’s ‘reporting suspected abuse, harm or neglect site’. You could be saving a life.”
Specialist services are available to help victims of harm, abuse or neglect during the Covid-19 pandemic, with children and parents who are at risk prioritised for services.
Message to victims – you are not alone
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, said:
“I want to send a clear message; Wales’ social services, specialist teams and third sector organisations are still open and are working hard to support anyone who needs their help.
“We are asking everyone to look out for any signs that children or adults in their community may be at risk of harm, abuse or neglect. Please report any concerns you have - you could make a real difference to someone’s life.
“Our services are here to help you, your family and community too - don’t be afraid to ask for support.”
Where to report your concerns:
You can find out what to do here: https://gov.wales/reporting-suspected-abuse-harm-or-neglect-safeguarding
Live Fear Free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – call free on 0808 8010 800 any time, if you can do it safely. You can also text 0786 007 7333, email firstname.lastname@example.org or live chat - https://gov.wales/live-fear-free/contact-live-fear-free.
Support is available through webchat, text & phone via @LiveFearFree
Police – 999 in an emergency
Silent 999: If you can’t talk in safety, but you need help immediately, police forces across Wales will respond to a silent 999 call – dial 999, and when the operator answers, dial 55 to indicate that you can’t talk, but need help.
The NSPCC can be contacted by phone at: 0808 800 5000 or at nspcc.org.uk.
Meic is a confidential, anonymous, and free bilingual helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales and you can still access this vital information, useful advice and support need during this period of lock down and are open 8am - midnight, 7 days a week, by phone 080880 25456, SMS text 84001 and instant messaging https://www.meiccymru.org
Childline is a free, private and confidential service to anyone under 19 in the UK where they can talk about anything. https://www.childline.org.uk/ where support is also delivered via webpages and message boards. The Childline number is: 0800 1111.
You can speak to a real person and get the support you need, or chat about any concerns you may be having.
The Safer Wales Dyn project provides support to Heterosexual, Gay, Bisexual and Trans men who are experiencing Domestic abuse from a partner.
http://www.dynwales.org/contact-dyn-project/?contentID=577 Tel: 0808 801 0321
The Bawso helpline offers support to BAME victims and survivors affected by domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women.
https://bawso.org.uk/contact-us/ Tel: 08007318147
The Hourglass Cymru confidential helpline 0808 8088141 provides information and support to anyone concerned about harm, abuse, neglect or exploitation of an older person, whether that abuse is perpetrated by family members, partners, neighbours, paid professionals or strangers
Welsh Women’s Aid Bystander toolkit - https://www.welshwomensaid.org.uk/campaigning/covid-19-bystander-toolkit/
Examples of controlling behaviour include:
- Harassment or control via electronic means eg constant texting, demanding passwords, checking up on who you are talking to
- Physical abuse or violence
- Emotional abuse eg constant criticism, insults, constantly making fun of your appearance or actions, refusal to allow you to speak or make decisions for yourself
- Threats of violence
- Threats to tell other people private information about you, or to show private pictures of you