Public health officials at Oxfordshire County Council are reminding individuals of the support on hand to those who may be experiencing domestic abuse or concerned about others who may be experiencing or using abusive behaviours in their relationships
It is estimated that nearly two million people across the UK suffer from domestic abuse each year, while nearly 140,000 children live in homes where abuse takes place. The Domestic Abuse Act recognises children as victims in their own right.
Domestic abuse can include psychological, emotional and economic abuse, as well as physical and sexual violence.
Cllr Mark Lygo, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: “The need for household isolation and social distancing due to Covid-19 has put pressure on many relationships and families. We have seen a significant rise in domestic abuse over the past 18 months, likely due to movement restrictions increasing the severity of abuse and impacting upon access to usual coping mechanisms.
“One in five young people are said to be exposed to domestic abuse. Over the summer break, with more time at home and with peers outside of school, there is an increased risk of young people being the victims of abuse - whether that be through experiencing it in their home or in their own intimate relationships - without access to support.
“Summer holidays are also the peak time for young people to be subjected to female genital mutilation and forced into marriage. Young people especially may also be at an increased risk of so called ‘honour-based’ abuse, and these abuses can happen both at home in the UK, or abroad.
“It is, therefore, important Oxfordshire residents have access to information and support.”
There is a wealth of support and information for those who may need help, or have concerns:
Anyone in immediate danger should phone 999. Or if in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999 and then press 55. This will transfer the call to police, who will assist without the caller having to speak. Those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing can register with emergency SMS by texting ‘register’ to 999.
Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Services offers free services to anybody aged 16+ experiencing domestic abuse (including so-called ‘honour-based’ abuse), with or without children, regardless of sexuality, ethnicity and immigration status. The Oxfordshire domestic abuse helpline is open and available. For help and support call 0800 731 0055 (Mon-Fri 10am-7pm), or email [email protected]
Alternatively, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline is open 24-hours to offer support 0808 2000 247.
The Reducing the Risk website has information about what abuse might look like, how to stay safe, and what to do if you’re worried about somebody.
Anybody worried about harming the ones they love can access support and help to manage their behaviours through the Respect phoneline on 0808 8024040.
The Forced Marriage Unit offer a public helpline to provide advice and support to victims and potential victims of forced marriage, and to professionals working with cases. You can contact the FMU on 020 7008 0151.
Children and young people with any worries around the issues explored can contact ChildLine, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, on 0800 1111.