The number of domestic abuse victims reaching out for support has increased by more than a quarter during lockdown, according to a leading charity.
Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA), which provides services for victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence, says it supported 27% more women in April than compared with the last three years.
The charity also reports that it saw an increase of 25% more hours in direct client work between March and April.
Across the UK, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline has seen a 50% increase in calls, as well as a sharp upsurge in domestic killings, since March 23.
As part of a fundraising appeal for JWA, one former abuse victim, who does not wish to be named, said she “would be dead today” if she had not been helped by the charity before lockdown.
She said: “I have nightmares every night because I know if I was living in lockdown with my ex-husband and my four children, I would be dead today and my four children would be in care.
“Fear, loneliness and utter desperation is something I hope no-one ever experiences. But these ladies who are in lockdown in abusive relationships are petrified.
“Help them gain their liberty and a new life, the same way that Jewish Women’s Aid helped me.”
Since lockdown began, JWA has offered its services remotely, including the launch of a new web chat support service, as well as running helplines, counselling and children’s therapy and arranging emergency accommodation and welfare grants.
The charity said it has spent £60,000 providing these services during the coronavirus pandemic and estimates a further £80-100K will be needed over the coming year.
Like many other charities, JWA cancelled its annual fundraising dinner, which last year brought in £250,000 for the charity.
JWA said it is currently supporting around 100 women each week, as well as “dozens of children”.
Chief executive Naomi Dickson, said: “We’re dealing with more women asking for help and more children being traumatised through witnessing the abuse.
“Our support staff have been able to cope with the increase in demand, but like the rest of the sector, we believe this is the tip of the iceberg.
“As society begins to open up again, we are going to experience a level of need that we are simply not equipped to deal with.
Donations can be made at jwa.org.uk/appeal