The challenges have been enormous for those locked in at home due to Covid-19 restrictions. For many families, the lockdown has meant home has become increasingly unsafe. As reported nationally by many different organisations and agencies, domestic abuse has become an even bigger issue. One of the charities helping one of society’s most vulnerable groups is Rotherham Rise. With decades of experience to help them, they provide support for many domestic violence and abuse survivors and, where needed, provide refuge.
Sue Wynne, CEO of Rotherham Rise said:
“it’s worrisome that we see such an increase in referrals, but I want to reassure people; women, men, families; whoever is currently living in fear, services are open and ready to help you. Life can change, and just because of lockdown and other COVID 19 restrictions does NOT mean you cannot flee domestic violence.”
To illustrate the effect of lockdown on families, one of Rise’s service users, Lisa*, illustrates the challenges she has faced. Lisa has suffered sexual violence and physical assaults throughout her 16 years of marriage. During the last few months, due to Covid 19 restrictions, the abuse had become much worse, with the sexual abuse repeated daily. Sadly due to the family being stuck at home, she could no longer hide the abuse taking place from her children, who devastatingly could hear it going on. The other issue was that the COVID-19 restrictions made it more isolating for Lisa; it was harder to communicate with the outside world, being watched continuously by her partner.
With so much fear, Lisa mustered all her courage to disclose the abuse and reported her partner to the Police. It is important to note that fleeing is often one of the most dangerous times for people fleeing abuse. Lisa and her three young children were supported and placed in temporary accommodation; unfortunately, they had to leave after a few days due to safety concerns. Social Care and Independent Violence Advocate Services came together to find a Refuge space for the family at Rotherham Rise. Rotherham Rise was able to promptly provide an emergency, safe accommodation space for Lisa and her children.
In Lisa’s own words:
“I arrived with my children at the refuge and felt an instant breath of relief. Staff were so welcoming and kind. I felt cared for, and that aching feeling of isolation reduced instantly.
The door to my flat opened, and I was so deeply touched at the warmth, cleanliness and spacious place offered to me. I smiled. I felt as though I hadn’t smiled for days. I saw all my children smile too.
My children rushed to the bedroom where they had beautifully laid beds with a gift for each of my children. On my bed, I saw a Welcome pack and all my essentials such as toiletries and food were presented with such love I had not experienced before. I had no heating in my house as my husband has become addicted to alcohol and cannabis, which stopped him working. I feel my prayers have been answered. We were safe…
Rotherham Rise is that sunshine on a dark, gloomy day and being here has given me hope for my children’s future. My children loved their gifts and are happy.
Most importantly, I am not scared anymore. I feel supported. It’s organisation’s like Rotherham Rise that make me feel this world can be better and safer.”
If you are reading this and recognise any of it, please know support is available to you. Rotherham Rise charity will believe you, will support you and you are certainly not alone. It’s also important to remember domestic abuse can happen to anyone in all its forms.
Alternatively when you get your COVID-19 jab look out for our information leaflets on Healthy Relationships produced in conjunction with RMBC together with Safer Partnerships Rotherham.
*names have been changed.