COVID-19: Domestic & Elder Abuse Contact details
This is a practical update on how to get help if you are experiencing domestic abuse (or are someone who is concerned about, or has witnessed abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of anyone, including vulnerable older people).
There’s been a lot of misleading commentary (on Twitter and Facebook in particular) in the last two weeks following increased efforts by the UK and Scottish Governments to draw attention to domestic abuse.
I wrote about the efforts a couple of weeks ago (there is some detail in that post about the law in Scotland). Shortly after that post, and following the 120% increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline down south, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, launched a campaign to help victims of domestic abuse during the Coronavirus pandemic- #YouAreNotAlone. That followed action by the Scottish Government at the end of March, when they had underlined that they recognised that there was a particular risk for people who were at risk of experiencing violence during the Coronavirus lockdown. The Scottish campaign was relaunched on Good Friday, to run until the 17th of May 2020.
As there has been a lack of clarity about how these two campaigns work within the UK, and how people access support we were really grateful to Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline for confirming the position on Friday:
- If you are in Scotland and need help, you can contact Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline:
Phone: 0800 027 1234
The Helpline can help you regardless of age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or background. It is staffed by specially trained workers managed by Scottish Women’s Aid who work in partnership with the Men’s Advice Line (who can also be contacted direct on 0808 801 0327)
- If you are in England or Wales you can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge by phone on 0808 2000 247 or at https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
There are other specialist charities that you can access support from if you are in England and Wales and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline can direct you to them.
- What can Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage (SDAFM) Helpline do to help?
They can involve the Police or give you other advice and support. The Helpline doesn’t directly provide accommodation but will signpost you to local support services that might be able to support you with your specific needs. They will direct you to support services available in your local authority area, or, the area they are looking to go to.
- What do I do if I can’t speak? Can I press, '55'?
When callers are unable to speak but need to call for emergency services, if you dial ‘999’ and then press '55’ the operator will put you through to the police and indicate that you are in need of help, in Scotland as well as in England and Wales. This will not mean that the service will necessarily be able to trace where the caller is though.
- Is there anyone who can help me if I am being abused by someone else in my household? For example if I am old or infirm or incapacitated in some other way?
In terms of the abuse of older adults, how the Helpline would respond would depend on the individual’s circumstances. If the person was calling about domestic abuse, they would handle the call in the same way that they would handle any domestic abuse call.
You can also get specific support from Action on Elder Abuse. They can provide information, advice and support to victims and others who are concerned about or have witnessed abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of vulnerable older people. They can be contacted Mon – Fri, 9am-5pm on 0808 8088 141. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need advice about any of this, contact us in confidence and we will do what we can to help you, or to refer you onto others nearer you, if we can’t help you.