Support for domestic abuse victims during the coronavirus outbreak

Published: Friday, 3rd April 2020

Domestic abuse support services in Oxford remain available for people to access during the coronavirus outbreak.

Following measures from the Government to tackle the coronavirus outbreak including social distancing and advice to stay at home, there are no restrictions on movement if you have to leave your home because it is unsafe, or if you want to get help.

Domestic abuse support services reported increase in calls across UK – with the national domestic abuse helpline seeing a 65% increase in calls on Saturday (28th March) compared with the same day the previous week.

Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to:

  • Physical violence
  • coercive control and ‘gaslighting’
  • economic abuse
  • online abuse
  • verbal abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse

In Oxford a multi-agency group including Oxford City Council are working with local domestic abuse services to ensure there is support for those experiencing domestic abuse. Staff in this group are following social distancing measures, however are able to provide support and safety planning on the phone, over email, or via Skype.

Services will not pass people’s details to the Home Office without their explicit consent, and will not comply, if asked, with the Home Office’s hostile environment policy.

How to get help

During the current coronavirus outbreak, victims can get in touch with support the following ways:

Call 999

If you are in immediate danger please call 999.

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.

Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Service

Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Services, which is operated by A2 Dominion, offers free services for all adults in Oxford, with or without children, regardless of sexuality, ethnicity and immigration status. 

Victims can call the local helpline on 0800 7310 055 between Monday – Friday between 10am-7pm, or email [email protected]

Alternatively, you can call the 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247.

Calls will not show on your home telephone bill but may appear on an itemised mobile phone bill.

Housing and domestic abuse victims

Sanctuary scheme

The Sanctuary scheme provides victims of domestic violence a way to stay safer in their homes and to stay safer in their homes and stop them having to flee and become homeless.

This service can be accessed if the perpetrator is no longer in the property but the victim of domestic abuse is concerned they will return and it feels unsafe. These services are provided free of charge.

In the coronavirus outbreak, the Council is currently only able to change the locks on doors to prevent entry to the property. However, the team will return to further assess the security of the property once social distancing measures have been lifted. 

If you feel unsafe in your home please contact the community safety team on 01865 252969 or email [email protected]

Refuges

A refuge is a safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence where they can stay (with or without children) until they decide what to do next. Refuges and other forms of domestic abuse safe accommodation currently remain open, and do not need to close unless directed to do so by Public Health England or the government.

Refuges are accepting referrals while following social distancing measures. However, in refuges where a user is displaying symptoms, or has been diagnosed with coronavirus, fewer spaces will be available for referrals in order to avoid spread of the virus.

Individuals who wish to access a refuge can contact the National 24 hour Domestic Violence telephone helpline, or the Oxfordshire domestic abuse helpline for help

Children and young people

Children and young people who are victims of abuse can call the national Childline helpline on 0800 1111.

“We know that this time of social distancing is challenging for everybody, however it is especially difficult for those who are victims of domestic abuse. We want to reassure those who are experiencing domestic abuse that they are not alone. Across Oxford, and the country, there are organisations who are continuing to provide support during this time.

“If you are in need of help and need to leave your home, or are concerned about someone who you think may be experiencing domestic abuse, please get in touch today. Just because we are social distancing, does not mean that help is distant.”

Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer, Healthy Oxford

More advice on support for victims of domestic abuse during coronavirus.