Young people who fear they may be at risk of domestic abuse at home are being advIsed of steps to take, both in an emergency, and for longer-term support.
With families still quarantined at home due to Coronavirus and the stresses of finances and home-schooling, incidents of domestic abuse are increasing. For many people, it may be difficult to access help and support as their movements could be being monitored or controlled.
Thousands of children* across Hampshire are likely to be living in abusive households, and will be unaware how to keep safe or how to deal with these difficult situations. Children and young people may feel they have to stop a fight, but this can be very dangerous with many thousands being injured through trying to intervene.
Karen Evans, of the North East Hampshire Domestic Abuse Forum said: “It is important that children stay safe when a row begins to escalate. They may want to stop the violence and protect the parent who is being abused but this may put them at risk of being hurt too.
“Instead of trying to stop a fight, a child or young person should try to find a safe place in their home or garden where they can hide and call the police for help from a mobile phone. Calls to the police are free and the police will respond to incidents of domestic abuse.”
Non-abusive parents are encouraged to speak to their children about what is happening and to discuss a safety plan with them, including ensuring that they know how to call the police, as well as reassuring the children that they aren’t responsible for another person’s behaviour.
A safety plan can include deciding who would be a good person to speak to about the situation, as well as ways to safely alert a trusted adult that an incident is taking place and they need some help.
Specialist children and young people’s domestic abuse advocates are available to help with safety planning and with emotional support. In Hampshire, this support is delivered by Stop Domestic Abuse, who can be contacted on 0330 0165112 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also information for children online through hideout.org.uk and Childline.
Neighbours and friends are urged to look out for families, especially if they are aware of previous domestic abuse or tensions in the household. Try to find opportunities to regularly check in with the children and see if they are doing OK, reminding them that support is there for them, and to contact the police if they have concerns.
*around 16,290 homes in Hampshire (excluding Portsmouth and Southampton) are estimated to be experiencing domestic abuse incidents.