‘It’s like being locked up with a monster’: Boss of domestic violence centre sees calls for help double in lockdown

PUBLISHED: 17:13 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:13 20 April 2020

Lorraine Saunders of Dawn's New Horizon. Pic: Archant

Lorraine Saunders of Dawn's New Horizon. Pic: Archant

A woman who runs a Norwich centre helping people suffering domestic abuse said calls for help have doubled since lockdown.

Dawn's New Horizon shop, Cannerby Lane, Sprowston. Pic: ArchantDawn's New Horizon shop, Cannerby Lane, Sprowston. Pic: Archant

Calls have risen to about 35 a week, mostly from women reporting they have been left in coronavirus lockdown with no food by partners, no money.

One woman’s husband even took all her belongings leaving her with just a microwave to feed two children.

Others are telling of being subjected to verbal abuse, being told they are “useless” and worst cases are seeing women needing refuge right now in coronavirus lockdown to escape the violent men they are in isolation with.

But among the most heart-breaking are women reporting their husbands or boyfriends are turning their aggression on their children in households where they are forced to live together because of coronavirus restrictions.

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Lorraine Saunders, who runs Dawn’s New Horizon in Sprowston, Norwich, wants to get the message out loud and clear that help is available for women and men suffering from domestic abuse in lockdown. Although the shop in Cannerby Lane is closed for purchases, it has been allowed to open for people to call in and obtain advice and information from. A helpline number is also still available.

“The numbers of people calling us have doubled since coronavirus lockdown. They’re mostly women but we have had two men. One woman said her partner was bad mouthing her, saying she was useless and she contacted me and said: ‘Am I useless?’

“Another woman had nowhwere to go, her husband had severely beaten her up. She tried to pay to stay in a hotel but they wouldn’t take her because of coronavirus, so eventually one of my friends with a holiday home let her stay there. Other women have told me that the man has started on the children – it’s heartbreaking.”

Since the lockdown organisations like Dawn’s New Horizon have suffered because income they make from selling items in their charity shop has dried up. They are reliant on donations to keep going and to keep delivering food parcels to those in need – last week they delivered 57 across Norfolk.

The organisaion was founded 12 years ago by Ms Saunders who had experienced domestic abuse first hand.

“Coronavirus has put people together with monsters, whereas one of them can usually escape by going to work, being isolated together means problems are escalating. One lady told me that her partner was a ‘bit better’ to her if he could get out in the garden.

“I see it at Christmas time, at Easter, they are the usual highs so when the government announced the lockdown because of coronavirus, I thought ‘oh no, we need to get things in place to cope’.”

If you need help you can click here or ring the helpline 07854 044680.

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