Today, Hestia publishes a new report that highlights the impact of Covid-19 on domestic abuse refuges. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on victims of domestic abuse, with abuse escalating and support networks cut off. As we move into a prolonged period of restrictions on daily life and potential future waves, we must learn quickly to make sure victims of domestic abuse get the support they need.

Read 'Domestic Abuse in Lockdown' 

  • Domestic abuse support app Bright Sky used 67,685 times during lockdown

  • 38% increase in people trying to access our domestic abuse support services

  • 1 in 4 pharmacies in the UK now facilitating a 'Safe Space' for victims of domestic abuse

domestic abuse in lockdown

Domestic Abuse in Lockdown

October 2020 

Key data from our domestic abuse services since 23 March 2020 

Pauline's story 

Pauline has been staying at a Hestia refuge for the last few months. She shares her experiences of escaping abuse in the middle of the pandemic.

I wasn’t really expecting to meet anyone as I’m in my mid-fifties and I always said the only men I needed in my life were my two sons. I had known my partner for a couple of years before we started a relationship. He was very charming, very helpful - he said he wanted to take care of me and after a long time on my own that was very appealing. Everyone thought he was lovely. I realised over time that he was very good at playing on people’s vulnerabilities. 

At first it started with him not wanting me to contact my family, he hated me speaking to them and would limit my time with my friends. Then the violence started. He would get these rages where he would call me ‘ugly’, throw things at me and be very aggressive.

The smallest thing could set him off – not turning the music down quickly enough led to him headbutting me one time.

I prayed for it to end and I wanted him to leave but he refused. When lockdown started and we had to stay in, at first I thought things might get better. I hoped he might stop drinking and taking drugs which always fuelled his rages but things only got worse. During one incident he threatened to kill me and hurt my family. I was so terrified. I told him to leave and managed to get him out of the house but then he came back at night and started hitting the windows, shouting about what he’d do to me.

By this time, I was feeling suicidal and I didn’t know how to get help. Eventually I found out about the domestic violence helpline and called them. Before that I didn’t even know refuges existed and that you could go somewhere safe, even during lockdown. I remember arriving at Hestia’s refuge and just collapsing and crying with relief. For the first time I felt safe. They were just so kind to me and arranged for me to have support for my anxiety and depression. Things are getting better but it’s a slow process. I have good and bad days.

I’m still not sleeping properly but I read a lot and I’m now seeing my sons and my grandchildren. I want to get my life back. I used to have a career, loved exercising and had lots of friends but he took all that away – he crushed me. I still think sometimes ‘why me?’. But I’m determined to get my life back and I’m lucky that I have good people around me who care - that’s what I focus on now.