Bishop John Sherrington has urged the nation to support victims of domestic abuse amid a rise in calls for help since the Covid-19 lockdown began.
His call comes after domestic abuse charity Refuge said it had experienced a 25 per cent rise in the number of women contacting the 0808 2000 247 helpline since the UK entered lockdown measures.
“At this time of national emergency, we are being asked to stay at home to save lives, but for those who are experiencing domestic abuse, the home is far from being a place of security, self-fulfilment and health. Too often it is a place of pain, fear, degradation and isolation,” said Bishop Sherrington, of the Bishops’ Conference domestic abuse working group.
Noting that there are many for whom the call to stay at home will be dangerous and potentially life-threatening, he said abuse inflicted can include many forms of violent and non-physical intimidation such as persistent verbal abuse, emotional blackmail and enforced social or financial deprivation.
“There is a risk that such abuse, which usually occurs behind closed doors, could grow and worsen during this time that we are being asked to be socially distancing from others,” the bishop said.
“I applaud the organisations and individuals who are continuing to work through the Covid-19 pandemic to support women, men and children who are suffering domestic abuse, and to ensure that nobody has to stay in an abusive home,” he added.
Bishop Sherrington noted that last year the Day for Life appeal highlighted the scourge of domestic abuse in society, and called for Catholics in England and Wales to support existing groups and projects working to help the most vulnerable, and to assist in spreading awareness and information about domestic abuse.
“I reiterate this call now and urge us to continue to come together as a nation to support those who are most vulnerable during this pandemic, including those suffering domestic abuse,” he said.
“Every person has a right to live their life free from violence, abuse, intimidation and fear. Please join me in praying for the women, men and children who are experiencing suffering due to domestic abuse during this pandemic, asking the Lord to give them hope and courage in the knowledge that there are places of safety for them during this pandemic.”
Information and support on domestic abuse:
Police: 999 press 55 when prompted if you can’t speak
Refuge UK wide 24-hour helpline: 0808 2000 247
Welsh Women’s Aid Live Fear Free 24-hour helpline: 0808 80 10 800
A Catholic response to domestic abuse: http://www.dayforlife.org/article/a-catholic-response-to-domestic-abuse/
Guidance for supporting people who may be experiencing domestic abuse: http://www.dayforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/CSAS-NCSC-Guidance-Supporting-people-who-may-be-experiencing-domestic-violence.pdf
Picture: PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. File photo, dated 09/03/15, shows the shadow of a man with a clenched fist as a woman cowers in the corner. (Dominic Lipinski/PA).