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As domestic violence cases surge, a BBC presenter shared a subtle message with viewers.

This post discusses domestic violence, and may be triggering for some readers. If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Journalist Victoria Derbyshire has used her position as the host of BBC News as a means to share a subtle message for victims of domestic violence.

As instances of domestic violence continue to rise around the world amid the outbreak of COVID-19, the newscaster had the phone number for the UK’s National Domestic Abuse helpline written on her hand throughout the broadcast on Monday.

Posting to Twitter following the program, Derbyshire wrote: “The National Domestic Abuse hotline has seen a 25 per cent increase in calls and online requests for help in the past week.”

“During the lockdown there’s also been a daily rise in people going to the helpline website and last week that figure was up by 150 per cent,” she added.

Speaking to CNN, the journalist further explained that she initially wrote the phone number on her hand to take a photo of it to share on social media.

“I left it on my skin in case it could help any of the millions watching after 9am on BBC1,” she said, before adding that it was already “shocking enough” that two UK women were killed every week by a partner or ex-partner before the coronavirus outbreak began.

“Now some will be trapped with a violent perpetrator in self isolation or partial lockdown and it’s even more vital to get the helpline number out there,” she added.

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In recent weeks, the number of people seeking domestic violence help in Australia has dramatically surged.

As social distancing and self isolation measures are implemented across the country to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people and families are in a position where the outside world is actually safer than being at home.

Increased financial insecurity and reduced ability to visit support people or leave relationships can also increase the risk of domestic violence.

WATCH: Women and violence: the hidden numbers. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

According to Women’s Safety NSW, the impact of COVID-19 is causing a rise in domestic violence cases in New South Wales in particular.

In client numbers overall, Women’s Safety NSW have seen an increase of 50 per cent.

There has also been a significant increase in escalating or worsening violence, which is up by 50 per cent, an increase in violence being reported for the first time at 47.5 per cent, and an increase in violence specifically relating to COVID-19, which is 50 per cent up from 36.2 per cent last week.

“What we’re observing is a ramping up on each indicator,” Hayley Foster, Women’s Safety NSW chief executive officer said.

“Not only are we seeing increased client numbers in more locations, we’re also seeing instances where the COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to more extreme violence and abuse as well as cases where violence is erupting in relationships for the first time.”

Speaking to MamamiaRenata Field, spokesperson for Domestic Violence New South Wales, said trends indicate a dramatic increase in domestic violence due to the coronavirus internationally and within Australia.

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“Unfortunately the home is often not a safe place for women and children in Australia, with at least one in four women having experienced intimate partner violence since the age of 15,” Field told Mamamia.

“For many survivors, work and school are safe places to escape from away from the home, and the lack of these safe spaces leads to increased risk and concerns for safety.”

Listen to the latest episode of Mamamia’s daily news podcast, The Quicky, below.

What does abuse look like?

According to the Domestic Violence Resource Centre, here are some of the ways that abuse could potentially appear during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Physical:

  • Examples could include preventing victims from seeking medical attention, restricting their movements within the home, withholding necessary items such as food or medicine, locking a victim out of the house, physical restraining the victim, destroying property, or physically harming the individual in any way.

Emotional: 

  • Examples could include using the pandemic as an excuse to justify abusive behaviour, ex-partners manipulating victims or survivors to enter their home, shifting the blame for abuse, manipulation, disrespectful language, making them feel guilty, dictating who the partner can or can’t speak to, or misinforming them about the outbreak in an attempt to control them.

Financial:

  • Examples could include using the pandemic to gain control of the family’s finances, control how a partner spends their money, or forbidding them from working.

Sexual:

  • Examples could include rape or forced sexual acts.

Technological:

  • Examples could include monitoring devices or services such as mobile phones, email accounts, messaging apps, or using technology to control a partner.

What is the government’s response to the rise in domestic violence?

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an increase in $150 million in funding to support organisations working in domestic violence.

The funds will go towards support programs including the 1800RESPECT hotline and Mensline Australia.

“An initial $150 million will be provided to support Australians experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence due to the fallout from coronavirus,” a media release from Morrison’s office read, according to SBS News.

“A new public communication campaign will roll out to support those experiencing domestic violence over this period and to ensure those affected know where they can seek help.”

Feature Image: BBC.

For more on this topic:

If you or someone you know is in danger or there is an immediate risk of harm, call 000. 

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.


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