12. Child contact
Consistent with lockdown and previous Phases, many organisations continued to receive reports from victims regarding perpetrators extending their abuse during or via child contact. Domestic abuse support services reported perpetrators encouraging children to monitor the non-abusive parent on their behalf and/or be hostile to them; constant changes of time for contact and/or handover as a means of exerting control; and verbal abuse during handover. Some services reported that women continued to have to facilitate contact themselves, particularly in cases where contact centres were closed, and this was increasing their and their children's risk.
A small number of organisations reported that perpetrators were breaching the more stringent Coronavirus restrictions - particularly in relation to household visits - by taking children to multiple households during contact, which was causing victims increased stress and anxiety. The organisation reported that women communicated there was little guidance or recourse for them in these circumstances, and there was ongoing ambiguity about where women should seek assistance and whether the abusive parent's conduct was a criminal or civil matter. There were also a small number of reports provided of perpetrators attending at victims' houses unannounced, justifying their attendance by stating they were "making up for missed contact" during the lockdown and subsequent Phases.
Control over maintenance payments was reported by a number of services during this period. Some clients reported that perpetrators justified their refusal to pay maintenance over previous phases and lockdown due to not being allowed the same levels of access to their child(ren). One organisation also reported some perpetrators were exerting financial control by forcing their ex-partner to wait for payments.