We need to be doing so much more to help victims of domestic abuse

Let's be absolutely clear, domestic abuse doesn't happen because of a pandemic, the Coronavirus or lockdown, it happens because abusers choose to abuse, writes Sam Billingham

Sam Billingham's latest column for the Express & Star
Sam Billingham's latest column for the Express & Star

As a survivor of domestic abuse I strongly believe that the Prime Minister has missed many opportunities where he could have done so much more for victims of domestic abuse.

We have seen our Prime Minister on our TV screens numerous times over the last 12 months and not once has he addressed victims of domestic abuse who are in lockdown with their perpetrator.

Many victim are unsure as to whether specialist services are still operating during lockdown, Boris Johnson could have had helpline numbers such as Mankind and Women's Aid on his podium.

He could have had an opening introduction specifically directed at victims of domestic abuse, reassuring them how household isolation instructions don't apply to you if you are leaving your home because of domestic abuse.

Victims need lots of reassurance because behind closed doors they are being moulded and manipulated into believing it's their fault and that no one will believe them if they disclose.

Society should help unprogramme victims from everything that their perpetrator programmes them to believe and Boris Johnson is in the prime position to do this.

Domestic abuse is about power and control, not physical violence alone and now there are so many men and women in lockdown with their perpetrator seeing no way out.

A helpline number on their TV screen could give them confidence to make that telephone call and reassure them that they aren't alone.

Many people in abusive relationships are unaware that they are a victim or even being abused because they aren't physically hurt. If people aren't aware they are a victim, they aren't going to know where to even go for support.

Victims have to be nurtured away from the arms of their abusers and as a society we have to help nurture them. We cannot and we must not keep being bystanders and stand by watching people experience this horrific crime.

Being in lockdown with a perpetrator is deadly, we have already seen domestic abuse cases and domestic abuse homicides soar. We need to be doing so much more!

Awareness is key and the Prime Minister could have been the key in raising the awareness.

Again, I have to repeat, domestic abuse does not happen because of a pandemic, Coronavirus or lockdown.

Household isolation instructions do not apply to you if you are leaving your home because of domestic abuse and specialist services are not on lockdown.

These are the strong messages that the Prime Minister should keep saying at his conference meetings to give reassurance to victims of domestic abuse and an even stronger message to perpetrators that even during a pandemic you will not get away with committing this horrific crime.

Lockdown will be lifted one day but domestic abuse will still happen.

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