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Domestic violence and abuse

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Published: 15 July 2020

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This week, the Health and Wellbeing team at the University of Sunderland in London launched the campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence and the support available from the University.

As students at the University, you have access to a range of help, including with issues as serious as domestic abuse and violence. The definition of domestic abuse can be wide-ranging and includes sexual harassment or assault and hate crimes.

In a previous article, we talked about how you can keep relationships healthy in lockdown, where we touched on some of these issues. But we think it’s important to take a deeper look at domestic violence.

It’s been widely reported than the lockdown of the last few months has led to an increase in domestic abuse, with helpline reporting huge increases in calls. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline has seen an increase of 120% in calls and online messages.

One upsetting report has shown that there have been 16 suspected domestic violence killings in the UK since lockdown started. Another show there has been a 20% rise in domestic abuse cases globally.

Victims are living in unsafe environments, in some cases trapped at home with their abusers. They believe they can control their relationship and often use physical violence, fear, intimidation and isolation to control their partners.

The lockdown has given them more free time and fewer barriers preventing them from abusing their victims, all of which has lead to a rise in the amount and severity of abuse. It’s important to know that abuse can be online, with social media being the main culprit.

One major issue is that a lot of victims don’t know how to report their abusers. It can feel challenging to go through the process. It can also trigger feelings of fear or anxiety which add to the feeling of being unsafe.

In July this year, the Domestic Abuse Bill was approved by the UK parliament. It legally defines domestic abuse for the first time and creates new protections for victims.

In other positive news, the number of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) has grown rapidly in the UK over the last few years. ISVAs are trained professionals who offer specialist support to victims of sexual violence and abuse.

They work with the victims to properly report the crime, with a focus on making sure there is a formal investigation or a court hearing. The victim gets emotional and practical support throughout their time with their ISVA. 

If you are experiencing domestic violence or abuse, or you are worried that someone you know might be, there are a few things you can do right away.

999

If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, you can contact the emergency services on 999 (or 112 from your mobile phone).

The Health and Wellbeing team 

We’re here to support and empower you to report if you’re going through domestic abuse or violence. You can call the team on 0207 531 7343 or email them at londonhealth@sunderland.ac.uk. We can work with you to create a safety plan, refer you to places to report your experiences and get information on your options going forward.

Talk to a friend

 It can help to talk with someone you trust.

Text support

If you need to talk to someone straightway, you can text Shout on 85258, a free 24/7 service for people struggling to cope.

We take issues of domestic violence and abuse extremely seriously at the University of Sunderland in London. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the issues talked about above, please get in touch with the team as soon as possible. We can help you.

Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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