Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS) are an independent charity which supports anyone affected by domestic abuse in Yorkshire by providing lifesaving support, refuge accommodation, outreach services, and a helpline.
After the most recent Government instruction that people should not leave their homes, concerns have been raised about the safety of domestic abuse victims.
IDAS' teams will now have to work slightly differently and in response to the Covid-19 lockdown are developing new ways to support those affected by abuse.
As well as keeping refuges and helplines running they are also providing support through online video support sessions, WhatsApp messaging, phone calls, online live chat and email.
The charity explained that for many people who are afraid of their partner and may be faced with being isolated with them for long periods of time, this is an additional risk factor and they may also be receiving misinformation from their abuser that help is not available.
Sarah Hill, CEO of IDAS, said: “We are really worried about the risks of people being isolated with abusive people whose behaviour may escalate due to increasing uncertainty, pressure on finances and cramped conditions.
"Many people who face controlling, violent or abusive behaviour from a partner or family member are likely to be feeling very scared about being isolated with them for long periods of time. We want them to know that there is support available.
"Over the next few months, we will work creatively and flexibly to provide vital services in very difficult circumstances.
"We are immensely proud of our teams who are pulling together during this difficult time to ensure that there is a way for people to get help is they are afraid of their partner or concerned for someone they know.”
What can you do to help if you're worried about someone?
IDAS provides the following advice for friends, neighbours or family members concerned about someone they know:
- Check in with them regularly, if it is safe to do so
- Ask if there is anything that you can look out for that might indicate they need help
- Set up a safe word to indicate that help is needed
- Call the Police if you hear or see anything that could indicate a potential risk
- Look at the safety planning advice on our website
Help for victims
If you are facing isolation with an abusive person, IDAS offer some safety planning advice on their website.
In addition, they suggest considering the following:
- Get a spare phone and store emergency contact numbers in it and hide it in a safe place or with a trusted person
- Keep your ID documents, emergency funds, bank cards and children’s birth certificates to hand
- Speak to your neighbours and ask them to ring the police if they hear or see anything
- Set up safe words with friends so they know to call for help on your behalf
- Plan to check in with people regularly so that they can raise the alarm if they don’t hear from you
- Plan to escape to the garden or to a room that you can exit from easily if abusive behaviour escalates
- Avoid rooms where there could be weapons if the abusive behaviour escalates
IDAS say anyone who is able and would like to support them with even a small donation can do so here.