UK lockdown: Calls to domestic abuse helpline jump by two-thirds

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Calls to the Refuge charity's domestic abuse helpline have jumped by two-thirds since lockdown started, while website visits have increased nearly ten-fold.

The charity said it had seen a 66% rise in demand for its 24-hour 0808 2000 247 helpline since the nation was ordered to stay indoors and more women ended up trapped inside with abusive partners.

Meanwhile, visits to the service's helpline website, where women can confidentially ask for a safe time to be contacted, have jumped by 950% since March 23, it added.

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Chief executive Sandra Horley said: "Right now women's lives depend on them being able to access the specialist services Refuge provides, and now, more than ever, we must continue to provide the confidential support needed.

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"While lockdown itself does not cause domestic abuse, it can aggravate pre-existing behaviours in abusive partners. Women up and down the country are isolated with abusive partners - and children will be witnessing and in some cases experiencing domestic abuse.

"This is a terrifying ordeal and Refuge wants women to know they are not alone."

Earlier this month, Harry Potter author JK Rowling donated £500,000 to the charity to help counter the rising tide of domestic violence.

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Refuge said on any given day it supports more than 6,500 women and children through its specialist support facilities.

They include safe emergency accommodation in secret locations, independent advocacy services for women at risk of serious violence, and a modern slavery service.

Its freephone 0808 2000 247 helpline provides confidential support in many different languages and its website can be visited here:

Last week, director of public prosecutions Max Hill QC said domestic abuse cases are among those being treated "as a priority".

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He told the Commons Justice Committee: "We are as alarmed as anybody by the very difficult position that, in the main, women are put in, particularly in some communities, in enforced lockdown.

"It is very important that we say publicly that we are there to deal with those cases."

Security Minister James Brokenshire also announced the Government is looking at implementing a "key word" system to help victims alert people like shopworkers during a rare trip outside the home that they need help.

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