CAMBRIDGE City Council is urging anyone experiencing, or at risk of domestic abuse during the coronavirus outbreak to make contact with the support services which are still operating during this period.
Tackling domestic abuse remains a priority for the council during the period when the government is advising people to stay at home where possible. This may be creating additional challenges to those at risk of domestic abuse who may feel unable to escape from those carrying out the abuse.
There are several steps that people in abusive situations can take to keep safe:
- Phone the police on 999 if it is an emergency, and if unable to speak at that time, press 55 after the automated message. The call will then be transferred to your local police and callers will be given further instructions
- The freephone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline is also available on 0808 2000 247 or online at nationaldahelpline.org.uk
- If looking for help online, ‘quick exit’ buttons and other mechanisms can be used to increase online privacy. Information is available from techsafety.org/internetbrowserprivacytips
- Local help from charities and domestic abuse services is collated on the council’s website at cambridge.gov.uk/advice-for-people-affected-by-domestic-abuse including dedicated help for LGBTQ+ people and for male victims of domestic abuse
- The charity Respect offers support for people exhibiting abusive behaviour or who are worried about their own behaviour on 0808 8024040 or at www.org.uk/help-for-perpetrators/
The council’s Housing Services team can also offer help and advice on people’s housing situation, and assist with finding alternatives. They can be contacted on 01223 457918 or via www.cambridge.gov.uk/housing The council was recently accredited by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance and staff are trained to recognise and assist those experiencing domestic abuse.
People concerned about friends, relatives or neighbours can also contact the council’s Community Safety team on 01223 457950.
Cllr Nicky Massey, Executive Councillor for Transport and Community Safety, said: “During this unprecedented period sadly some people will be at increased risk of domestic abuse, as they are stuck for long periods with the perpetrator. Abuse can take many forms, including psychological abuse, where one person seeks to coerce or control another, as well as physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse.
“While social distancing measures are in place people may also be experiencing economic abuse, where spending on food or other items is controlled, sometimes by taking control of someone’s mobile phone or computer.
“I would urge anyone in a situation like this to call the police in an emergency situation, or to reach out to the council or our partners when it is safe to do so, using some of the protective measures that are available for phone calls or online.”
Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “I appeal to anyone out in the community or making contact with friends, family or neighbours, and who senses that something may not be right with somebody else’s domestic situation, to get in touch with the council’s Housing Advice team or another of the agencies listed on our website who can help.
“Our staff are in a unique position to help people who are experiencing abuse, and can provide clear steps to help people improve their situation.”
The DAHA accreditation is the national benchmark for how housing providers should respond to domestic abuse. As well as this accreditation, the council works in a number of other ways to minimise domestic violence and to support victims locally.
It works closely with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Partnership, which aims to reduce the harm, risks and costs associated with domestic abuse and sexual violence and to prevent these crimes occurring across Cambridgeshire.
The council is also a member of the Cambridge Community Safety Partnership which prioritises particular issues in the city related to crime, disorder, antisocial behaviour and more. Current priorities include safeguarding people against violence and exploitation.
The council has been accredited with White Ribbon status since 2015. White Ribbon is an international campaign to end male violence against women by working with men and boys to challenge cultures that lead to harassment, abuse and violence against women.