The Metropolitan Police Service is supporting National Domestic Violence Month 2020 – a worldwide campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse.
During October the Met’s new Lead Responsible Officer (LRO) for domestic abuse will be highlighting why it is important for officers and the public alike to understand the prevalence and various aspects of coercive control, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Controlling and coercive behaviour is still not fully understood by everyone.
The purpose of this worldwide campaign is to remind us all that domestic abuse can affect anyone. We need your help to spot the signs and help those experiencing abuse in any form.
Acting Detective Superintendent, William Hodgkinson, Safeguarding Lead Responsible Officer [LRO] for domestic abuse, stalking and harassment explains:
“Controlling coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten a victim. The acts are designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
“It is the emotional, psychological, economic and financial abuse of a person. It is about someone controlling a person’s entire life, taking away their everyday decisions, from what clothes they wear and the contacts they connect with, to control over their bank accounts and where they go on a daily basis. This forms a pattern of control and a coercion to act or behave in a certain way for fear of something worse happening.
“Coercive control is particularly of concern at the moment as Covid-19 restrictions mean there are more opportunities for offenders who reside with victims to have a high level of control over their victims. Many victims will fear calling out for help in these uncertain times. The offender is often a partner and may be the parent of their children, so the victim could be fearful about what calling for help may mean for their children. Similarly victims may have concerns about finance or housing. There are a plethora of reasons as to why victims may not reach out to us. We will provide the links to key partners who can support and advise through these challenges. If you need help we are and will always be here.”
Examples of abuse include a victim’s phone being taken off them, not being allowed to leave the house, having to tell their partner where they are going at all times, controlling what the victim wears, monitoring their devices and social media accounts or restricting contact with friends and family members. All of these acts gradually end up taking away the victim’s sense of independence and empowerment. Without the support and access to friends and family we see victims gradually withdraw from the world around them.
Officer across London get called to over 140,000 domestic incidents a year – each one a call for help from someone.
In each Basic Command Unit (BCU) area, officers are continuing to prioritise and respond to domestic abuse calls, and we continue to work closely with a range of partners to ensure victims receive the support and service they need.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse or you know a friend, relative or neighbour who you think is at risk, call police right away. In an emergency, always call 999 – high harm domestic abuse calls will continue to be prioritised.
The 24/7 National Domestic Abuse helpline, which offers support to victims and people affected by domestic abuse, is free to call on 0808 2000 247.
The Respect Phone-line provides confidential advice and support to help perpetrators stop being violent and abusive, and is free to call 0808 8024040
Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327 a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic violence and those supporting them www.mensadviceline.org.uk
Karma Nirvana: 0800 5999 247 Mon to Fri 9am–5pm supporting victims of honour based abuse and forced marriage www.karmanirvana.org.uk
Hour Glass: 0808 808 8141 challenging the abuse of older people in all its forms www.wearehourglass.org
Galop LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428 www.galop.org.uk
Childline: 0800 1111 If you’re a child or young person and domestic abuse is happening in your home or relationship.