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‘Hidden killer’ - looming rise in domestic abuse sparks danger warning

There are fears domestic abuse in Suffolk could rise following the coronavirus crisis. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

There are fears domestic abuse in Suffolk could rise following the coronavirus crisis. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

A looming rise in domestic abuse in the wake of Covid-19 could be a “hidden danger - and sometimes a hidden killer”, a Suffolk charity has warned.

Michelle Eaves, operational manager for community safety at Anglia Care Trust. Picture: ANGLIA CARE TRUSTMichelle Eaves, operational manager for community safety at Anglia Care Trust. Picture: ANGLIA CARE TRUST

Anglia Care Trust (ACT), based in Martlesham, joined forces with Suffolk police and Suffolk County Council to launch a free, 24/7 domestic abuse helpline - 0800 977 5690 - during lockdown, amid fears victims could be “trapped in a house with an abuser”.

Even though ACT said it hadn’t recorded the same significant rise during lockdown seen nationally, Michelle Eaves - operational manager for community safety - said: “We’re anticipating, as lockdown eases, that this will change.”

MORE: Rise in reported domestic abuse expected as lockdown eases

It is now urging more people to use its helpline to ensure victims get the support they need.

“The reason for launching the free 24/7 helpline is to ensure that the people of Suffolk have a specific number to call,” Ms Eaves said.

“This can only help to ease the pressure on the national helpline and we can provide support, advice and guidance at a local level.”

MORE: Domestic abuse helpline extended to offer more support

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ACT says there is often a “traditional view of domestic abuse is that the victim will be a female and the abuser will be a male”, and that: “Domestic abuse is usually synonymous with violence.”

However, Ms Eaves said ACT provides support for many male victims.

“There are a surprising amount of male victims who in some cases find it more difficult to reach out for help,” she said.

“It’s also not just a partner to partner issue. We have parents who are abused by their children, and take calls from friends worried about someone suffering abuse.”

Suffolk police said that although it had seen a large increase in the number of calls to its control room for domestic abuse, the actual increase in crime is lower.

Det Ch Supt Eamonn Bridger has pledged that: “It is and will remain one of our highest priority areas. We know how it affects more than just the victim.

“These increases are part of a national trend – this has been more of a hidden crime in the past, which is changing as more people begin to come forward. The more people who come forward, the better.”

Nationally, domestic abuse charity Refuge - which runs the National Domestic Abuse helpline - says it has received more than 40,000 calls and contacts since the start of lockdown, with an 800% increase in June.

■ COMING UP: victims of domestic abuse speak out - and how you can spot the signs of someone being abused.


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