Domestic violence takes many forms - physical, sexual, and mental - and appears from the last published figures in November 2020 to have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.
Tragically it also inlcudes murder, usually by the perpetrator of such domestic abuse.
But it is not only here in the UK that the rates of domestic violence are increasing, and calling for help can be a daunting and risky thing to do for majority of people suffering this way in closed homes; and with little if any visits from people outside of the home.
In Canada, the Canadian Women's Foundation supports and promotes organizations helping women, and indeed men; to get help and alert the authorities as to their cirumstances. Often there is a need for immediate help and that cannot always be communicated to police or other family members or friends.
So an internationally recognised signal for help has been doing the rounds today on websites and social media, which the foundation in Canada has been promoting.
Apart from calling the police, and giving the 'silent signal' - uncommonly known as 'Silent Solution 55' is the name given to the initiative that allows people to call 999 or 112 when they aren't able to speak, which has been used by the Police for more than 15 years in order to help operators identify which calls are genuine and which are accidental.
In such circumstances the caller is asked by the operator to cough or make a noise if they can't speak. If they don't, the call is connected to an automated system which asks the caller to press the number 5 key twice - '55'.
Police are then dispatched to the address from which the call is made.
Now with this new method of signalling for help, either via a mobile phone video call, or when in the view of another person not of the household, e.g. delivery people, or passing someone in the street after getting their attention by touching them of bumping into them, or when passing a person in a corridor or supermarket aisle.
This video shows example situations of when the hand signal can be used:
In England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report shows the increase in incidents of domestic violence which we know can go up during sports events such as The World Cup and the Olympics, but now has a new situation which has increased the incidents of domestic violence being reported - Covid-19 and the associated lock-downs that have been put in place by the Government in an attempt to stem the near tsunami of infections.
The full report provides several statistical graphs and comes to the conclusion that:
Police recorded crime data show an increase in offences flagged as domestic abuse-related during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, however, there has been a gradual increase in police recorded domestic abuse-related offences over recent years as police have improved their recording of these offences; therefore it cannot be determined whether this increase can be directly attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.
But it also points out:
There has generally been an increase in demand for domestic abuse victim services during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly affecting helplines as lockdown measures eased; this does not necessarily indicate an increase in the number of victims, but perhaps an increase in the severity of abuse being experienced, and a lack of available coping mechanisms such as the ability to leave the home to escape the abuse, or attend counselling.
You can down load the full ONS report from the Union safety E-Library in the Government Reports category and using searchwords 'Domestic Violence' here
Source: Canadian Women's Foundation / Twitter