10. Perpetrator tactics
In some cases, victims and their children were at greater risk due to the increased time spent in isolation with the perpetrator.Many services reported that, although perpetrator tactics have not changed significantly, the impact and risk of domestic abuse is magnified by lockdown.
Research suggested there were some instances in which perpetrators of domestic abuse used abusive behaviours that were apparently specific to lockdown. These include: spitting at victims or within the house; coughing on or at victims/children; threatening victims with infection; and coercing victims to allow access into their home. As mentioned, a number of perpetrators stated to victims that police would be too busy to attend should they choose to report. Domestic abuse support services also reported an increase in reports of perpetrators causing visible injuries during physical assaults, sometimes to victims' faces or other areas unconcealed by clothing. The perception of services/clients is that perpetrators were less cautious as the victim had far fewer social interactions, thus the chances of detection were fewer. Domestic abuse services also reported perpetrators threatening to report their partner/ex-partners over alleged breaches of the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.
There were continued reports of stalking behaviours by perpetrators, both online and in person. A number of services reported victims felt like "sitting ducks" within their homes as they perceived the perpetrators knew their whereabouts at all times.
Throughout the 8 week period, some clients reported an escalation of perpetrators' alcohol use, exacerbating the frequency and severity of abuse. There were continued reports of perpetrators who had been furloughed/made redundant due to lockdown, whose behaviour was previously stable but who had now started to behave abusively.
Conversely, some victims and perpetrators reported lockdown eased coercive controlling behavioursbecause perpetrators felt more in control of their victim as they were confined to the house, had no contact with others, and the perpetrator knew their whereabouts and what they were doing at all times. For some who did not reside with the perpetrator, lockdown offered more security as the perpetrator could not illegitimately attend their house and they experienced fewer instances of stalking/harassment.