8. Risks and Safety planning
Consistent with the period of lockdown, throughout phases 1 and 2 there continued to be reports from some victims who had found the restrictions provided them some respite from abuse by their perpetrator, and allowed them safe space and time with their children, which had been positive. For others, lockdown and the continued restrictions had magnified their isolation and escalated post-separation abuse.
Despite the easing of restrictions, some domestic abuse services reported they continued to provide safety planning advice specifically applicable within victims' homes because the options for safety planning in public places remained limited.
As mentioned above, throughout Phases 1 to 3, there were continued reports of support organisations that were unable to safely contact victims due to the presence of the perpetrator. During phase 3, a domestic abuse recovery service reported it had been unable to accept new clients who remain in a relationship with the perpetrator due to service generated risks associated with remote working. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the service accepted women who remained with the abusive partner into its (face-to-face) group work programme. However, the manager felt unable to accept women who remain with the perpetrator into remote sessions due to the risks for the victim and others of being monitored by the perpetrator. During Phase 3, some organisations also restricted their face-to-face engagement with victims in public places, such as cafes or parks, due to the risk of being observed/monitored by the perpetrator.
Throughout the period of lockdown, organisations consistently communicated an anticipated increase in referrals once restrictions were lifted. As Scotland entered Phase 1, organisations began to receive communication from victims who were postponing separating from abusive partners due to the continued restrictions, particularly the limitations around access to temporary/alternative housing. As Scotland entered Phases 2 and 3, a number of services reported victims communicated they were making plans to separate from their abusive partner in the following weeks, in most cases when the abusive partner returned to work and/or children returned to school. During Phase 3, a specialist BME organisation reported a number of clients that communicated they wished to leave their abusive partner but due to their immigration status and the limits to them accessing housing, universal credit, employment etc. they chose to remain in a relationship with the perpetrator.
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