Safety and Self-Care Advice for Survivors in Isolation
If you are surviving, or have previously survived abuse, the current restrictions and changes to daily routines, activities, and other social opportunities may have a profound effect on your safety and well-being. We want to reassure you help is available. We, along with all the local specialist services in Wales, will do our utmost to support you through this period of insecurity and change. Please scroll down to find our advice on keeping safe and well.
Self-isolating or social distancing while experiencing abuse?
We know that many people who are currently living with the perpetrator of their abuse are fearful of escalating abuse during this period of self-isolation. Similarly, many may still be experiencing abuse remotely through digital devices or social media sites.
Below are key pieces of safety advice:
If you are able, always keep a charged mobile phone with you.
If you think that you and / or your children are in immediate danger, call the police on 999. Police are still responding to emergency calls.
Emergency SMS provides a text message service for deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired people in the UK to send SMS messages to the UK 999 service where it will be passed to the Police.
If you are afraid of being overheard calling 999, you can use The Silent Solution System. This enables you to inform the police, without speaking, that you are in an emergency. After dialling 999, an operator will ask you which emergency service you require. If you do not say anything, the call will be forwarded to an operating system. You must then press 55 – this will inform the operator that it is an emergency and they will transfer the call to the police. Follow this link for more details.
Live Fear Free is the national helpline for Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse, and Sexual Violence in Wales continues to operate 24/7 and is available to anyone affected by abuse or violence as well as anyone who is concerned about someone else.
Telephone: 0808 80 10 800
Text: 07800 77333
Where possible and safe to do so keep in touch with those who are close to you and you can trust, whether over the phone or online!
There is also a range of legal protections to which you are entitled if you are living with a perpetrator of domestic abuse. Among these, you can apply for:
- An Occupation Order – this order can exclude a perpetrator of abuse from living in a property, even if they are the joint or sole owner of the property.
- A Domestic Violence Protection Order – this is a temporary order and can remove the perpetrator from your residence and from making contact with you for up to 28 days.
- If you are not living with the perpetrator but are still experiencing abuse, you can apply for a Non-Molestation Order which prevents the perpetrator from pestering, harassing or molesting.
For more information on your legal rights and options, you can visit the Rights for Women website here. For advice, you can ring the national family law helpline on 020 7251 6577. Please note that the helpline opening hours are currently limited to:
Tuesday and Wednesday 7pm – 9pm, and Friday 12pm-2pm.
Child Contact arrangements are a concern for many survivors at a time of recommended self-isolation. Perpetrators are likely to use COVID-19 to further use child contact arrangements as a means of coercive control. Survivors may also be concerned that they will be accused of breaching a court order by not allowing contact for example. Rights of Women have produced a useful page of guidance here.
The President of the Family Division has released Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders’ during COVID 19.
Thinking of Leaving?
You may be concerned that the new rules on self-isolation will make it more difficult for you to leave your home in an emergency. Perpetrators may deliberately try to confuse understanding of the regulations on self-isolation to isolate survivors unnecessarily. The UK Government has confirmed that victims of domestic abuse are allowed to leave their home to escape their abuser and / or to ask for help during the lockdown, and that refuges will remain open:
“Whilst our advice is to stay at home, anyone who is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, is still able to leave and seek refuge. Refuges remain open, and the police will provide support to all individuals who are being abused –whether physically, emotionally, or otherwise” (Priti Patel, Home Secretary)
There is guidance for refuges on how to provide support during the COVID 19 pandemic including for survivors and children who may need to self-isolate with them.
If possible, try to plan your leave in advance. This will enable you to consider how best to ensure your own (and if you have children) your children’s safety. For advice on safety planning before and after leaving an abusive relationship, visit the ‘I Need Help’ page on our website – see here.
Help and Support
The new COVID-19 regulations may be particularly distressing for survivors of any kind of abuse, whether the abuse is ongoing or happened in the past. This includes children and young people. Distancing and isolation from friends, family, colleagues, and other social networks can make coping and the road to recovery even harder.
While service have had to adapt their face-to-face or groups support work due to the COVID-19 social-isolation and distancing regulations, support is still available!
VAWDASV Specialist Help and Support
Live Fear Free is the national helpline for Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse, and Sexual Violence in Wales continues to operate 24/7. You can ring (0808 80 10 800); text (0786 00 77 333); e-mail ([email protected]); or use the live chat service (visit gov.wales/live-fear-free) at any time of the day or night, any day of the week. The Helpline offers advice to all survivors of violence or abuse, as well as individuals who are concerned about someone who may be perpetrating or a victim of abuse.
Check with your local services what support they are offering. For example, you may be able to continue with counselling over the phone or online. You can find out where the nearest service to you is and access their contact details here.
You can also get advice from the following places:
Galop (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survivors of domestic abuse)
Phone: 0800 999 5428
Safer Wales Dyn (for male survivors of domestic abuse)
Phone: 0808 801 0321
BAWSO (for black and ethnic minority survivors of VAWDASV)
Phone: 0800 731 8147
Rape Crisis (England and Wales)
Phone: 0808 802 9999
Phone: 0800 11 11
1-2-1 Counsellor Online Chat
Deaf Hope (emotional and practical support for deaf people, including survivors of domestic abuse)
Respect (for people concerned about their behaviour and wanting to manage and change it)
Call: 0808 8024040
Please find our advice on self-care for survivors who have previously experienced abuse and violence here:
Welsh Women’s Aid runs the National Survivors Network which is an online survivor forum for women who have experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence. You are able to access a range of resources and engage with other survivors and services. You can sign up to the forum here.
General mental health and well-being Help and Support
Phone: 0300 123 3393
Email: [email protected]
Specific guidance from Mind on well-being in light of COVID-19: www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/#collapse51ed0
Phone: 116 123
0800 11 11
1-2-1 Counsellor Online Chat
Some ideas for helping children and young people to cope:
And don’t forget to keep in touch with those who are close to you and you can trust, whether over the phone or online!