Domestic abuse rose in first lockdown so why isn't more help available this time?

AMBER Heard cited domestic violence as the reason why she applied for a restraining order against former husband Johnny Depp four years ago.

Many did not believe her, but this week a judge agreed that Depp is a wife-beater when the star lost his libel case against The Sun, costing him a fortune in legal fees along with his role in new film Fantastic Beasts.

It proved, yet again, that domestic abuse is something that goes on behind all kinds of doors, to all kinds of people, all around the world.

And even though a married couple can look blissfully happy on the outside, the violence simmering beneath the surface can be horrific.

That is why I feel angry as we enter a second lockdown that more help has not been put in place for women, and men, across the country now locked behind doors with their abuser.

One of the many hidden costs of lockdown is that domestic abuse levels go through the roof.

In the first three weeks of the last one, 14 women and two children were killed.

Two thirds of women in abusive relationships have suffered more violence from their partners during the pandemic, according to an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama and domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid.

Domestic abuse is something that goes on behind all kinds of doors, to all kinds of people, all around the world

Three quarters of victims say lockdown made it harder for them to escape their abusers.

And the Counting Dead Women project told MPs that between March 23 and April 12, at least 16 domestic abuse killings had taken place — much higher than average.

Calls to domestic abuse charities jumped 49 per cent in the first few weeks of the Covid restrictions — and there was a call every 30 seconds during the first seven weeks.

But for all those calls, there are many who cannot ask for help.

A recent survey by the charity SafeLives found that 61 per cent of survivors were unable to reach out for support during lockdown “partly because they weren’t able to access phone or online support, or their perpetrator was with them all the time”.

One bit of good news is the long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill, due to become law early next year, will usher in significant reforms in England and Wales.

Included will be an acknowledgment of economic abuse and a ban on using a defence of “the victim consented to rough sex” in murder cases.

But that is a long way off right now for many who face the next month with someone who is controlling their life and destroying their confidence.

'THEY NEED HELP MORE THAN EVER'

Domestic abuse is not just physical — it is also mental abuse, isolation and coercive ­control.

Coronation Street highlighted coercive control brilliantly with its storyline about Yasmeen Nazir being gradually pushed away from friends and family and humiliated, intimidated and tormented by her husband Geoff until she believed she was the one in the wrong.

And that is the really terrifying danger, because people who blame themselves struggle to reach out for help.

Even strong, opinionated Scary Spice Mel B allegedly suffered in silence for ten years.

She claims her ex-husband, Stephen Belafonte, abused her on their wedding night in 2007 and that it was the start of a “reign of terror”. He denies any wrongdoing.

Talking about Women’s Aid, for whom she is a patron, Mel said: “During lockdown many women are trapped at home with their abusers and need help more than ever.

“Women’s Aid are waiting to support you.”

And I am urging women to reach out and get that support during this lockdown if they need it.

Because the charity will believe you — even if you don’t believe yourself.

 Get help at womensaid.org.uk.

HOW YOU CAN GET HELP:

Women's Aid has this advice for victims and their families:

  • Always keep your phone nearby.
  • Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
  • If you are in danger, call 999.
  • Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
  • Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
  • If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
  • Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.

If you are a ­victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support ­service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – [email protected]

Women’s Aid provides a live chat service available. from 10am to noon.

You can also call the freephone 24-hour ­National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Callous cops are uncaring

THE police who arrested and handcuffed a retired nurse in her seventies for trying to take her 97-year-old mother out of a care home before lockdown must have taken leave of their senses.

Let’s face it, care homes did not exactly fare brilliantly during the first lockdown.

So is it any wonder some people might decide their elderly parents could be better off at home with them?

But Ylenia Angeli, 73, was detained by officers after forcing her way into the home and removing her mother, Tina Thornborough – who, incidentally, she had not hugged for nine months because of the pandemic.

In distressing footage posted online, Mrs Angeli can be seen being handcuffed and put in the back of a police car in Market Weighton, East Yorks, while her frail mother looks on.

Sorry, but why was she handcuffed? Was she really any danger to anyone Are we losing our collective minds?

Humberside Police later said they had been responding to reports of an assault. But Mrs Angeli was subsequently de-arrested and allowed home, while Mrs Thornborough was returned to the care home.

But what on earth is this world coming to?

It makes no sense. To arrest a woman clearly trying to care for her mother and take her home to be looked after by family is just heartbreaking and cruel.

Pop Kylie inspiring

AT the age of 52, Kylie Minogue looks ten years ­younger – and has the energy of someone half her years.

She exudes glamour and happiness and is a true ­performer.

Over the course of three decades in the spotlight she has somehow managed to seem like a ­thoroughly nice person who doesn’t take ­herself too seriously.

She doesn’t spout about politics and, above all else, has staying power and resilience – qualities that we should all aspire to.

So I’ve now got a new life goal and that is to Be More Kylie.

I KNOW Rita Ora likes to be “out there” when it comes to her look.

And I’m sure there will be those – although I am not one – who want to emulate her personalised gold grills customised with an “R”, which were complemented by her scarlet lipstick.

But the red eyebrows? I’m just not so sure they will catch on.

Queen so poignant

THERE was something so moving about the photo of the Queen alone in a car, wearing black, in mourning for her late cousin Lady Elizabeth Shakerley, who died last week at the age of 79.

The Queen, 94, typically wears black only when in mourning, at funerals or for Remembrance Sunday, as seen in her extraordinary appearance in a mask, paying tribute at the grave of the Unknown Warrior, earlier this week.

There is a poignancy to both pictures which serves as a reminder of how lonely her job can be, and how she carries on nonetheless.

A true leader.

It was also a reminder that it doesn’t matter how rich you are or who you are.

Grief and sadness are the same for us all.

Just two festive

AND finally . . . some good news this week about the couple who became Mr and Mrs White-Christmas after tying the knot in a pre-lockdown ceremony.

Childhood sweethearts Kieran White and Tilly Christmas, both 20, combined their surnames as they created their own fairytale.

I guess the happy ending for their story will be if they have a daughter – and name her Snow.

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