Woman’s Aid Mid Ulster has warned of a potential increase of calls for support prompted by lockdown regulations as the Covid-19 crisis progresses.
Although there has not yet been an increase in calls to the local branch, a 27% increase in calls to the regional helpline has led the charity to issue advice to the public.
In a statement, it said: “Last year Mid Ulster provided support to over 1000 women, children and young people.
“Their home is meant to be a safe place, a happy place but it's not, it can feel like a prison.
“The unfortunate position we are all in is that we quite correctly need to stay at home to protect ourselves and others and to protect the NHS.
“The women who need our support now have no escape they and their children are now entirely trapped by their perpetrator.
“As yet there has not been an increase in calls to Mid-Ulster Women’s Aid, nevertheless we expect more calls for support and more referrals as time goes on.
“The regional helpline has stated there has been an increase of 27% in their calls. If that is the case then, there will be a similar spike in referrals to Women’s Aid across Northern Ireland.”
Mid Ulster Women’s Aid has urged family and friends to be vigilant and reactive and has called for a community and society response during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They have issued advice to help members of the public assist friends and family who may be suffering domestic abuse to safely provide support.
They said: “Check in with your friends, family, neighbours and colleagues, use WhatsApp, non-voice calls, as the phone is not a safe way to communicate for many.
“We all have a responsibility and could ultimately save a life. Be on the lookout for abusive behaviours.
“Check in with those you know, or suspect could be living with an abuser and let them know you are there, you care, and you can help them when the time is right.”
If you have suffered or are suffering any form of domestic abuse and would like accommodation, support or information, please contact Women’s Aid on 028 867 69300 during office hours or contact the Freephone 24hr Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline Tel: 08088021414 (managed by Nexus NI) which is open 24/7.
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