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Domestic abuse

Measures announced over recent weeks to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19) have seen people’s day to day life be drastically altered. These changes are essential to beat coronavirus and protect our NHS, key workers and the wider Community.

The Isle of Man Constabulary acknowledges that the order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse.

Being in close proximity with your abuser, under stressful circumstances can increase the risk of violence and abuse posed to victims. Very sadly, as reported in the national press, as cities around the world entered into lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, reports of domestic abuse have increased.  It would be remiss of us to fail to anticipate the same locally.

Please be reminded that domestic abuse is unacceptable in any situation, no matter what stresses you are under.

For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you. There is also some guidance available, which may help perpetrators change their behaviour.

The Isle of Man Constabulary works in Partnership with a number of local and off-Island charities who are able to provide advice and guidance.  A number of these support services remain open during this challenging time, albeit with revised protocols and policies, but with the aim of ensuring people receive the support they need.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic Abuse is defined as any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between any persons aged 16 or over who are, or who have previously been in a relationship, are intimate partners, or who are family members; regardless of gender or sexuality.

Categories of Domestic Abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Economic or Financial Abuse
  • Emotional or Psychological Abuse (including Verbal Abuse)
  • Stalking and Harassment
  • Abuse via a Telecommunications (including Telephone and Online)

Where can you get help?

If you believe you are being abused, or worried you may commit Domestic Abuse, please use the following services which may help you.

If you suspect that someone is suffering Domestic Abuse, whether be a family member, friend, neighbour or someone else in your community, we encourage you to report it to the Police.

Call 999

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the Police - the Police will continue to respond to emergency calls.  You will be asked if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 prior to Police attendance.  This is to preserve the safety of the Officers and the wider community. 

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999 and keep your phone hidden.  The Emergency Services Joint Control Room will pick up and record your call and help with be provided.  Police will get to you, even if you can’t keep the line open.  Police are able to respond to “dropped” 999 calls. 

If you are not in an urgent situation, but would like some advice and/or support in relation to Domestic Abuse, current or historic, then you can contact the non-urgent Police phone line on (01624) 631212 or the Domestic Abuse Officer directly on (01624) 631495.

Victim Support

Is a local charity which provides advice, help and support in relation to all crime.  The Staff are friendly and knowledgeable and one member has attained the nationally recognised status of Independent Domestic Abuse Advisor. 

All Staff are trained to carry out Domestic Abuse Stalking and Harassment (DASH) Risk Assessment and are in regular contact with the Police Domestic Abuse Officer. 

Victim Support can be contacted by telephone on (01624) 679950 or emailed on enquiries@victimsupport.im

There are a number of National agencies listed below who you can contact for advice and support.  Please be aware that some of the advice, specifically in relation to calling Police and Silent Support is not applicable to the Isle of Man and you should refer to the local guidance above for this information. 

National Domestic Abuse Helpline

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline website provides guidance and support for potential victims, as well as those who are worried about friends and loved ones. They can also be called, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.

The website also has a form through which victims can book a safe time for a call from the team. 

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid has provided additional advice specifically designed for the current coronavirus outbreak, including a live chat service.  It is well documented that Women’s Aid volunteers have been given the facility to work from home to prevent too much disruption to the service they offer to victims and survivors of abuse. 

Locally the Women’s Refuge have a response plan to COVID-19 and will be potentially be available to accommodate persons who have fled abuse in the short-term – capacity permitting.  They will take referrals from Police and other agencies such as the Department of Health and Social Care, Probation and the like, but at this time, will unfortunately be unable to accommodate direct self-referrals. 

Men’s Advice Line

The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them. It can be contacted on 0808 8010 327 and emailed on info@mensadviceline.org.uk.  They also offer a Webchat service at specific times on specific days.  The opening hours are limited to weekdays however, and this should be borne in mind. 

Galop - for members of the LGBT+ community

If you are a member of the LGBT+ community, Galop runs a specialist helpline on 0800 999 5428 or email help@galop.org.uk.  Online referrals can also be made, however, the opening hours are limited to weekdays and again, this should be borne in mind.  

Chayn

Chayn provides online help and resources in a number of languages, ranging from identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those being abused.  Their “get help” tab offers some helpful and thought provoking self-help options and guidance. 

Support if you are worried about hurting someone

If you are worried about hurting the ones you love whilst staying at home, call the Respect Phoneline for support and help to manage your behaviour, 0808 8024040.  This website follows a similar format to the Men’s Advice Line and can be emailed at info@respectphoneline.org.uk.  It offers information about spotting the signs of offending and minimising the risk you pose to others. 

Economic abuse

If you are concerned about how COVID-19 may affect your finances and leave you vulnerable to economic abuse, please see the guidance on budgeting, available in the form of a free booklet and provided by the Isle of Man Government Debt Counselling Service.  This can be found online at www.gov.im/media/1359928/complete-debt-booklet.pdf

The Debt Counselling Service, run by the IOM Government’s Office of Fair Trading will remain open and provide a service during this lockdown period.  You can contact the Debt Counselling Service by emailing debt@gov.im, by calling (01624) 686500 or through their website www.gov.im/oft/money

During the Covid-19 lockdown, families are expected to be spending longer in each other’s’ company, this can lead to tensions within the home and no way out for people who need a break.  

You can take some safety steps now so you are prepared for a situation, if it should arise at home.

  1. If it is an emergency and you are, or someone else is, at risk of harm – call the Police on 999. If you are unable to, cannot speak, or are too afraid to speak, you can leave the line open and help will get to you.   
  1. Think about safe spaces at home where you can take refuge. Try to avoid anywhere such as the kitchen or garage where there may be items which could be used to harm you. Ask yourself:-

Is there a room where you can quickly and easily exit the property from?

Do you have an outdoor space you can take refuge in?

Do you have any rooms which lock from the inside?

  1. Keep a mobile phone charged and at hand, so you can summon help quickly. Keep it on your person where possible
  1. Agree a time with a family member, friend or neighbour that you can contact them each day, so you can keep in touch with someone and let them know you are ok. Stay active on Social Media if you can – this may be your only way to get a message out quickly.  We have a supportive community here on the Island.  Someone will be very likely to see a distress call.   
  1. Agree a code word that you can text or use in a call with a family member, friend or neighbour to raise an alarm so they can contact the Police for you.
  1. Speak to your children about where they can go to keep safe. Explain that they need to get to safety first and then raise the alarm. Getting involved in the situation may put them at risk of harm. Remember GET OUT, GET HELP.
  1. Form an escape plan from the house and consider deciding on a child friendly trigger word that you can use to indicate to children that it’s time to leave the house. If you do need to leave the house and you are approached by the Police, explain to them why you had to leave so they can help and safeguard you. During this period of Isolation, you will get noticed if you are outside in a public place. 
  1. If you can, keep bank cards or some cash and house or car keys in a safe and accessible place, in case you need to grab them in a rush.