COVID-19 resources on Domestic Violence

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The impact of COVID-19 and associated measures on health, police, and non-government organisation service utilisation related to violence against women and children

BMC Public Health

Background: Globally, concerns have been raised that the priority implementation of public health measures in response to COVID-19 may have unintended negative impacts on a variety of other health and wellbeing factors, including violence. This study examined the impact of COVID-19 response measures on changes in violence against women and children (VAWC) service utilisation across European countries. Methods: A rapid assessment design was used to compile data including a survey distributed across WHO Europe Healthy Cities Networks and Violence Injury Prevention Focal Points in WHO European Region member states, and a scoping review of media reports, journal articles, and reports. Searches were conducted in English and Russian and covered the period between 1 January 2020 and 17 September 2020. Data extracted included: country; violence type; service sector; and change in service utilisation during COVID-19. All data pertained to the period during which COVID-19 related public health measures were implemented compared to a period before restrictions were in place. Results: Overall, findings suggested that there was a median reported increase in VAWC service utilisation of approximately 20% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crucially, however, change in service utilisation differed across sectors. After categorising each estimate as reflecting an increase or decrease in VAWC service utilisation, there was a significant association between sector and change in service utilisation; the majority of NGO estimates (95.1%) showed an increase in utilisation, compared to 58.2% of law enforcement estimates and 42.9% of health and social care estimates. Conclusions: The variation across sectors in changes in VAWC service utilisation has important implications for policymakers in the event of ongoing and future restrictions related to COVID-19, and more generally during other times of prolonged presence in the home. The increased global attention on VAWC during the pandemic should be used to drive forward the agenda on prevention, increase access to services, and implement better data collection mechanisms to ensure the momentum and increased focus on VAWC during the pandemic is not wasted.

Last updated on hub: 21 April 2022

Contact experiences and needs of children of prisoners before and during COVID-19: findings from an Australian survey

Child and Family Social Work

Most of the research examining children visiting a parent in prison indicates that visits have a positive impact on children's well-being, their connection to the imprisoned parent and the parent themselves. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a significant change to prison visits worldwide, with limits or bans on face-to-face contact. Understanding the experiences and needs of children during this period remains limited. This paper presents the findings of a survey of 84 carers of 184 children across Australia, investigating children's experiences of contact with their imprisoned parent both before and during COVID-19 restrictions. Although most carers reported maintaining contact during restrictions, a range of difficulties were noted: reduced availability; the effect of prison-based issues, including lockdowns; and the suitability of video/telephone visits for young children. Some described the benefits of videoconferencing, including reduced travel time and cost, and not needing to take children into a prison environment. Despite this, respondents typically described the negative impact of restrictions, and lack of physical contact, on children's emotional well-being. Our findings suggest that, for video visiting to be successful, it should be complementary to in-person visits, tailored to the needs of children, with support offered to families.

Last updated on hub: 27 March 2022

“#Domestic violence isn’t stopping for coronavirus …….”: intimate partner violence conversations on twitter during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic

Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work

Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) became a cause of growing concern due to the shelter-in-place orders during COVID-19. Social media has been utilized to share information and communicate during national emergencies and disasters. Our goal was to analyze data from Twitter to examine the types of IPV conversations during the early days of the pandemic. Method: Of the tweets we collected between March 19 and April 19, 2020, a 10% sample was chosen (n = 3,506). We utilized content analysis to identify our themes and categories. Results: Five themes were identified: (a) increase in IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact, (b) resources to help victims and abusers of IPV during COVID-19, (c) general discussion about IPV, (d) experience of IPV, (e) Others. Conclusion: We discuss implications for social work professionals and how social media can be utilized for prevention efforts. Directions for future research and innovation are highlighted.

Last updated on hub: 27 March 2022

Vaccine uptake amongst people with personal experience of multiple disadvantage in Birmingham: research findings

Revolving Doors

This report presents findings from a piece of research about vaccine uptake amongst people with experience of multiple disadvantage in Birmingham. It is based on two focus groups with staff working at organisations in contact with people with personal experience of multiple disadvantage; and one-to-one interviews with 27 people about their views of the Covid-19 vaccine. The research aimed to explore whether there is a problem with the uptake of the vaccine amongst people with lived experience of a combination of homelessness, substance use, contact with the criminal justice system, mental ill health and domestic violence; understand how widespread this problem is, and the reasons behind it; think about possible ways in which people with such lived experience can be supported to make informed decisions about the vaccine. Key findings include: just under half of the people we spoke to do not want to take the vaccine and there were many reasons for this; many of those who did not want the vaccine did not think anything would change their mind, and a few were open to learning more about this from trusted sources; where people had chosen to have the vaccine, this was often linked to concerns about them or their loved ones becoming seriously ill from Covid-19; there were commonalities in who people trusted to tell them more information about Covid-19 and the vaccine and who they did not; some respondents, particularly older people, were critical about the conspiracy theories circulating online, whereas others found this to be an easy and quick way to access information; several factors helped people to have the vaccine if they wanted it – this included having vaccines available in a location that was considered ‘safe’, nearby and easy to get to; wider barriers making it more difficult for people to have the vaccine included the reliance on access to technology.

Last updated on hub: 04 January 2022

Shadow pandemic: shining a light on domestic abuse during Covid

Women’s Aid

This report is a detailed synthesis of the impact of Covid-19 on survivors of domestic abuse and on the frontline organisations that support them. The report explores innovations from the domestic abuse sector in response to the many challenges brought by the pandemic as well as gaps in the systemic response to domestic abuse from across different sectors and levels of Government. It focuses in particular on: Covid-19 pandemic and the changing needs of victim-survivors; the nature of domestic abuse and perpetration tactics; system responses to victim-survivor needs; sector impacts; and what the future holds. A clear impact on the sector has been changes in demand for domestic abuse support during the pandemic. As a result of the unprecedented restrictions on service delivery, frontline organisations have had to rapidly reshape delivery in order to meet need. As well as reshaping existing services, completely new services were launched across the sector and wider community to meet survivor need and fill gaps in the systemic response. Based on the findings and data analysed for this report, the DA sector learning partnership has identified a number of things that need to happen, now, to ensure a better future for victim-survivors and the sectors and systems that support them, including: all victim-survivors who are migrant women, Black and minoritised women, women with disabilities, older women, and LGBT+ groups need to be able to access and receive specialist, accessible, timely and responsive support services; funding levels must increase; sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia and other forms of discrimination and structural inequality need to be tackled, including economic inequality, that enable abuse and prevent victim-survivors from getting help when they need it; and all children and young people must be heard and receive the support they need, and child poverty must be addressed as a priority.

Last updated on hub: 04 January 2022

COVID-19 adult safeguarding insight project - third report (December 2021)

Local Government Association

The Insight Project was developed to create a national picture regarding safeguarding adults’ activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. This third and final report, summarises changes and patterns in adult safeguarding activity from January 2019 to June 2021. This report is based on activity data and information from 106 councils and qualitative insight from fifty councils, in England. The general picture is that safeguarding concerns continue to show a long-term upward trend, tending to decrease during periods of lockdown and other COVID-19 restrictions followed by a sharp increase once those restrictions are lifted. Section 42 safeguarding enquiries did not show the same upward trend shown by concerns, though they did fall and rise in line with changes in the volume of concerns. Prevalence of different types of abuse has not changed considerably during the pandemic, although there is some limited evidence in the data that psychological abuse, domestic abuse and self-neglect have risen during this time. However, councils have reported increased complexity and risks in abuse types and additional layers of complexity for safeguarding practice.

Last updated on hub: 22 December 2021

No place like home? Exploring the health and well-being impact of COVID-19 on housing and housing insecurity: summary report

Public Health Wales

This Health Impact Assessment (HIA) explores the health and well-being impact of COVID-19 on housing and housing insecurity, and looks at the importance of having a consistent home that is of good quality, affordable, and feels safe. It also considers security of tenure in relation to stability, and being able to prevent homelessness. It is the third in a series, which focus on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the population of Wales including the ‘Staying at Home and Social Distancing Policy’ and the impact of home and agile working. Key findings include: the economic impacts of the pandemic have had a negative effect on those on a low-income, women and young people; private renters are at increased risk of insecure housing due to housing being less affordable during an economic crisis – however, mitigation measures, such as the suspension on evictions and Tenancy Saver Loan scheme provided by Welsh Government and other agencies will have helped many; some women, children and young people have been at greater risk of harm from violence and abuse or exposure to this, through spending more time at home during the pandemic, and Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) has been exacerbated; there is also a lack of refuges where those at risk of VAWDASV can access support (particularly face-to-face support) and safe housing; the pandemic has highlighted the positive impact of housing and welfare COVID-19 support measures – homelessness prevention schemes have provided temporary accommodation, however some risk becoming homeless again when support measures end; there has been an increase in neighbourhoods coming together to support one another – however, some individuals and population groups have been affected negatively, such as feeling isolated or being unable to access support.

Last updated on hub: 07 December 2021

The domestic abuse report 2022: early release

Women's Aid

This document presents information on the provision and usage of domestic abuse services in England, focusing on the needs and experiences of survivors accessing domestic abuse support services; the scope and nature of domestic abuse service provision; and the impact Covid-19 has had on the usage and provision of services. Throughout the year, an estimated 10,809 women and 11,890 children were supported by refuge services and an estimated 124,044 women and 148,852 children accessed community-based support services. During the year, 61.9% of all the referrals received in refuge services using On Track were rejected, the majority due to lack of space, meaning demand for services continues to exceed provision available, in spite of an increase in the number of refuge spaces available. Whilst there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ survivor, minoritised women continue to experience additional barriers, for example, 30.0% of the women accessing services who were not British nationals, had no access to public funds. The pandemic forced services to develop innovative ways of working to continue reaching survivors who needed their support.

Last updated on hub: 30 November 2021

Remote support to victims of violence against women and domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic

Journal of Adult Protection

Purpose: This paper aims to characterize the type of support provided to victims of violence against women and domestic violence (VAWDV) during the first lockdown, assessing the training of professionals to use remote support (RS). Design/methodology/approach: This cross-sectional study involves a sample of 196 support professionals, mainly women (91.8%) and who integrate the Portuguese National Support Network for victims of domestic violence (NSNVDV) (Mean age = 36.49; SD = 10.52). Findings: Telephone emerges as the main RS communication media used in the lockdown (43.9%) and the emergency state periods (57.1%). Participants reported to have never used any social applications (41.8% vs 41.8%) or videoconference (46.4% vs 58.2%), in both periods assessed, i.e. lockdown and emergency state, respectively, and 82.7% assumed to have no training with RS to assist VAWDV victims. However, support professionals recognized several advantages in using RS such as dealing with isolation, reducing inhibition, fear and shame and in promoting the victims’ empowerment. Research limitations/implications: Given the exploratory nature of this study, only descriptive analyzes were conducted. Originality/value: During the COVID-19 pandemic, little is known about effective RS given by professionals to victims of VAWDV in the Portuguese context. The paper aims to add knowledge to the studied field.

Last updated on hub: 18 November 2021

Responding to the challenges of COVID-19: guidance for domestic abuse and safeguarding practitioners working with domestic abuse perpetrators

Respect

This guidance is intended as an aid for professionals/practitioners who are working with those who are abusive and/or violent within intimate and familial relationships, in the light of the challenges created by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The Respect Service Standard for organisation working with those who perpetrate domestic abuse is underpinned by a set of principles. These remain of critical importance in responding to domestic abuse during this period and include: safety first – keeping survivors and children central to the intervention is essential in the context of service delivery; do no harm – individual organisations will need to establish the viability of continuing with in-person service delivery; the system matters – it is crucial that services know who is still operating, the level of service available and the referral pathways; support for staff – supervision of, and support for, delivery practitioners, both professionally and emotionally, will need to be maintained and the accumulative effect of almost a year of restriction on social contact recognised; direct support work with service users during the Covid-19 pandemic – whilst some service users may engage well through remote, digital interaction, this may not be every client’s preferred means of communication and risks needs to be considered; online / remote delivery with service users during the Covid-19 pandemic – where remote work is preferred or is considered suitable based on the local area challenges it is important to recognise that this may not be appropriate for all clients.

Last updated on hub: 10 November 2021

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