Domestic violence

There has been much concern about the potential increase in domestic violence during this period of isolation.  The government has responded with sources of support for victims of domestic abuse. 

Colleagues and managers can often be the only other people outside the home that survivors talk to each day and are therefore uniquely placed to help spot signs of abuse –such as an individual becoming more withdrawn than usual, sudden drops in performance or mentioning controlling behaviours in their partner. These signs of domestic abuse, which may have been previously spotted by work colleagues/managers will no longer be as easily observed as staff work from home for longer periods. Some things to consider:

  • Changes in behaviour, acting in a way that is unusual or out of character for them
  • Having sufficient time during video calls to check in with people, looking out for any changes in behaviour or mood
  • Change in use of cameras on Teams call may mean individuals are hiding bruises or damage to property
  • Withdrawing from previous sources of support e.g. team group chat threads or catch-ups
  • Wariness or anxiety about their partner or a family member coming into the room whilst on a call or you are speaking to them
  • Increased reluctance to talk about their home situation or avoiding answering questions about it
  • Signs of tension, audible conflict in the home, shouting at children or others
  • Difficulty making contact with the individual virtually

There are many resources and sources of support available to individuals experiencing domestic abuse. If a member of your team discloses domestic abuse, particularly in the context of COVID-19, you can seek advice from the new Everybody's business helpline.

Further organisations that can provide specialist support include:

  • National DA Helpline, 0808 2000 247. Free, confidential, 24-hours a day service
  • Government advice to find out how to get help if you or someone you know if a victim of domestic abuse
  • Local domestic abuse service for Oxfordshire, Reducing the risk
  • White Ribbon. A leading charity engaging with men and boys to end violence against women.
  • Freedom Programme, a free 12 week programme that examines the roles played by attitudes and beliefs on the actions of abusive men and the responses of victims and survivors
  • Bright Sky App. A mobile app and website for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or who is worried about someone else

Specific support for women:

  • Rights of women. Provides women with free, confidential legal advice by specialist women solicitors and barristers
  • Live Fear Free Helpline, 0800 8010 800. Provides help and advice about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • Refuge, 0808 2000 247. Provides specialist accommodation and services to women and children escaping domestic abuse

Specific support for men:

  • Men’s Advice Line, 0808 801 0327. The Men’s Advice Line helpline provides a range of services aimed primarily at men experiencing domestic abuse from their partner
  • Respect, 0808 801 0327.  A helpline for men experiencing domestic abuse
  • Respect, 0808 802 4040. A helpline for people concerned about their behaviour, providing practical information and advice on domestic abuse for perpetrators, the abused, health and social care professionals, and family and friends

Specific support for the LGBT community:

  • Galop (previously known as Broken Rainbow), 0800 999 5428. National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline, providing support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence. Email contact

Specific support for parents and children:

  • Oxfordshire Family Information Service. Provides information and support for children, young people and families in Oxfordshire
  • Parent Line Plus, 0808 800 2222. UK wide help line for anyone caring for children and young people
  • NSPCC, National helpline 0808 800 5000, Wales  02920 267000. Offers advice and support on how to keep children safe from abuse
  • Childline, 0800 1111 is the free helpline for children and young people in the UK. Children and young people can call to talk about any problem
  • Reunite, 01162 556 234. A charity which specialises in international parental child abduction. Providing advice, information and support to parents, family members and guardians who have had a child abducted or who fear child abduction