When the pandemic disappears, domestic abuse will remain

From today, people in England will see restrictions start to lift and the government's four-step roadmap offer a route back to a more normal life.

Columnist Sam Billingham 





Columnist Sam Billingham . .

Step 1 education, this is the government's priority to ensure that all children and students return safely to face-to-face in schools and colleges.

I strongly believe that as the lockdown is subtly lifted, alongside the government's four-steps, now is the perfect time to raise vital awareness, support and protect all victims of domestic abuse.

If lockdown has taught us anything it's that domestic abuse is very real it's happening right now. We have seen a huge spike in telephone calls to specialist service helplines and an increase in domestic abuse homicides.

As the nation prepares to lift lockdown, we have to be prepared that when the pandemic disappears, domestic abuse won't.

Whilst Zoom lessons have become normal for our children and young people so too has domestic abuse. Many children have not only witnessed domestic abuse in the home but they have also been victim to this horrific crime.

Some children might be looking forward to the day when they can go back to the classroom to see their favourite teacher and all of their friends because for them, school is their safe haven.

Lots of children might think that domestic abuse is normal.

It's now time to plan a roadmap and educate the next generation about a crime so many people have accepted to be normal.

Step 2 business and activities, whether people like it or not, domestic abuse is everyone's business and we can all do more to support victims.

The roadmap for all businesses needs to be putting a Domestic Abuse Workplace Policy in place, starting those difficult conversations and asking the right questions.

So many employees have been in lockdown with a victim or a perpetrator, many employees won't even make it back to the workplace and many other employees can't wait to get back to their safe place.

Step 3 the government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible but what about those victims who will still be isolated from friends and family? Will friends and family look out for those warning signs, will they look at helping easing the pain of the victim or will they look the other way?

Step 4 The government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact, but moving through each step, we must remember that Covid-19 remains a part of our lives.

We also have to remember so too will domestic abuse and it will always be a part of life until a robust roadmap is planned and everyone is on the same journey in reaching the final destination of eradicating domestic abuse.

We have a pandemic on top of an epidemic and neither will go away until we are prepared to go through all the roadworks, together, mile by mile.

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