Coronavirus (COVID-19): domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls - 30/3/20-22/05/20

This report presents qualitative evidence on the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on people experiencing domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women/girls (VAWD) during COVID-19 lockdown for the period 30/3/20 - 22/05/20.


1. 42 third sector and statutory organisation/services provided evidence via telephone interviews.

2. This is consistent with reported domestic crime statistics for Scotland.

3. Scottish Women's Aid advised that local centres were unable to participate in the research due to prioritising frontline work.

4. Some research suggests victims of domestic abuse do not always engage in specialist services. SafeLives Whole Lives Survivor Survey 2020, for example, found that "67% of victims had never accessed support from a specialist domestic abuse practitioner".

5. The service perceived that remote/online engagement provided an increased opportunity to engage with the service anonymously, hence the increase.

6. Care must be taken to avoid assumptions about trends and the impact of coronavirus restrictions as this this information covers a relatively short period of time, and the number of requests increased by around two-thirds between 2018-19 and 2019-20.

7. While this service is voluntary, it is noted that in some cases men self-refer following encouragement from Children and Families Social Work services or for the purposes of improving access to children.

8. Data provided from SafeLives Marac Coordinators Forum, 6th May 2020".

9. Scottish Maracs - Covid Overview, SafeLives April 2020

10. This was also to accommodate clients who had children, allowing women to contact services before children were awake or after they were in bed.

11. One organisation reported about 21% of applications came from women who had insecure immigration status.

12. Scottish Prison Service confirmed mobile phones will be monitored in exactly the same way as the standard outgoing phone system so there is no additional risk to victims compared with the previous system.

13. For example, where victims would leave the house to get away from their perpetrator, the perpetrator would threaten to report the victim's "flouting of the rules" to the police.

14. This phrase was used in a number of telephone interviews with domestic abuse support/advocacy services.

15. In these cases the victims reported the perpetrator would not usually behave abusively in the presence of the children and that this was specific to lockdown.

16. There were some reports of women taking precautionary measures such as asking punters to take their temperature or shower prior to engagement, however there is no evidence to suggest these precautions would be effective.

17. Women and services perceived the main motivation for this was power and control, though in some cases women were being extorted. In Glasgow, it was reported that one individual had threatened over 30 different women.



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