Coronavirus: Impact of domestic abuse on children in lockdown – BBC Newsnight

published on July 13, 2020

I'm really scared of my dad especiallywhen he's been drinking sometimes hegets really angry and first things at mymom he's been getting worse sincecoronavirus and I worry a lot I have noidea what to doI can't escape because of lockdown what

You're hearing are the words ofchildren's struggling with the impact ofdomestic abuse and more during thiscrisis I hear them shouting and throwingstuff each other it makes me souncomfortable I don't like being alone

With my stepdad either he tries to kissme really hard on the neck and otherprivate places last time it made abruise he said I'm not allowed to snitchon himas everyone will be cross with me I

Don't know what to dothe testimony came through Childline theNSPCC has seen calls to its help linesrise by a third since the start oflockdown my dad has been physicallyabusing my mom he has an anger problem

And it's getting out of handsmallest things make him angry and hestarts shouting I'm terrified of him andI've had enough I can't take you anymoreplease help me 1500 adults have alsocalled the NSPCC z' helpline since the

Prime Minister announced lockdowndetailing specific risks to childrentrapped behind closed doors more thanhalf of those calls have led to socialservices referrals the charity toldNewsnight we've also heard of abuses

Using lockdown as an excuse to exertmore control and fear over children andadults in the home so not lettingchildren and adults code for examplemove to see the GP or maybe go and seeother trusted adults and friends and

Family or taking away technology andusing and really exacerbating thosecoercively controlling behaviors andthat we are aware can have a profoundimpact on children in particular at thestart of lockdown Newsnight reveal that

In England only a fraction of childrendeemed honourable or attending schoolthat included those with childprotection plans in place children withsocial workers who were entitled to aschool place through the pandemic but

Weren't turning up we highlightedwarnings that abusers would use the newrestrictions to further isolate childrennow we've spoken to a woman who saysthat's just what's happening to herfamily my ex said that the risks of the

Virus were too high to justify sendingour youngest to to school and while theclusters vulnerable and this should beat school social services have said theycan't enforce that and so there's beennothing that we could do so it's been

Really really difficult because thechildren want to be at school they werehaving daily support from teaching stuffnow they're getting no support at allthe woman whose identity we've concealedto protect the children said she'd been

Wrangling to get two of them back fromher abusive ex after he failed to returnthem from a contact visit lockdown hasmade it easier for him to keep them fromher and their other sibling it's causeda lot of distress for all three children

Because we're finally in a bit of aroutine albeit not a great one but theywere seeing each other there's beenlimitationsphone contact and he said right you have10 minutes so more and more of our lives

Have become fragmented it's almost likehe's getting right inside all of us andpulling us apart from each other and itseems that there's nothing we can donothing's open everything skeleton staffsocial services can't go to people's

Homes all the time a lot of working fromhome so I think in normal circumstancesthat would be raised as a real concernbut nobody's doing anything there'snobody that can help this domestic abusecampaigner and councilor in Wales has

Also seen an influx of people reachingout many with similar stories thepandemic has just shone a light on anepidemic that we've got anyway with themassive leaves and violence you knowwhere they could be full have a bit of

Respite and go to the house the childrengo to school you know the the womanmaybe go to work the abuser going towork you know gone down the perbwhatever now there's no less bite at allwe always say that it's like walking on

On broken eggshells you know when you'reliving with a perpetrator because youdon't know what's coming nextthis is like walking on broken glass itis really really frighteningRachel Williams knows the impact of

Domestic abuse on children she was shotat work by a violent partner after yearsof abuse he then killed himselftragically just a few weeks later so didher son jack you know you try andprotect the children from it as much as

You can as well as yourself you knowthey can hear stuff going on downstairsand you know certainly for Jack thesupport was never there for himdevastatingly lockdown has pushedanother child to talk of taking that

Most desperate stepmy oldest has said that suicide issomething that will happen if the twosiblings don't come home and it's sortof not sort of like a threat it was saidin a very matter-of-fact way that it's

The decision it's the only option it'shorrific I mean there's been a few timeswhere there's been suicide threats inthe past I think with this one it feelsdifferent the domestic abuse bill iscurrently making its way through

Parliament the NSPCC has shown Newsnightthe new analysis it's presented to MPswho are scrutinizing the bill thecharity found that children have beenseriously harmed and even died becausedomestic abuse wasn't always considered

A child protection issue and they saythe new legislation still doesn'trecognize those experiences thestatutory definition accompanying thebill does not currently include childrenand their direct experiences of domestic

Abuse we think this is deeply concerningthe NSPCC has been lobbying for yearsfor the government to include childrenand as have numerous experts across thesector including the domestic abusecommissioner the victims commissioner

And the children's commissioner it feelsat this point as if the government istelling a deliberate blind eye to theexperiences of childrenthe government told Newsnight theguidance accompanying the bill stresses

The impact of domestic abuse on childrenand establishes in law they must beconsidered and supported what's clearfor now is that nearly three months oflockdown have made already abusivesituations unbearable for many and the

Repercussions of that may not beunderstood for some time yet

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