Domestic abuse – At home shouldn’t mean at risk

The Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association are once again grateful to Counselling Experts Theresa Hughes and Julie York, who continue to share their thoughts on how to manage during these challenging times. In this article, they raise the difficult issue of domestic abuse – the hidden pandemic.


We have all adjusted our lives to the “Stay at Home” instruction – but what if home is not the safe haven it should be? Sadly, another consequence of the lockdown is the rise in domestic abuse – the charity Refuge reported a 49% increase in calls to their domestic abuse Helpline during the last few weeks.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse. It can include coercive control and emotional, abuse, sexual, on-line or economic abuse. If you feel afraid, or change your behaviour to pacify others, then you might be experiencing domestic abuse. If you feel concerned about yourself or someone in your community, please take action.

You can call 999 from a mobile (press 55 to make yourself heard) or from a landline (stay on the line as long as possible to enable your location to be identified).

Draw up a Personal Safety Plan. Think about the points below to prepare yourself to stay safe.

• Go out for daily exercise and shopping – this will help you feel less isolated and more connected.
• Keep up basic self-care – sleep, rest, personal hygiene, exercise, regular meals.
• Do something calming, e.g. Yoga, mindfulness, Pilates. Free online classes are on YouTube and other platforms.
• Find a safe place at home – can you lock or barricade a room? If not, stay out of the kitchen and keep near doors/ exits.
• Keep in regular contact with your support network – family, friends, colleagues, health professionals, and local groups.
• Identify a ‘safe place’ away from home, e.g. a trusted family member, friend, or refuge. Have a bag packed with some money kept in a safe, accessible place. Use a ‘safe word’ to text if you feel you need to leave home.
• Download a Personal Safety App, e.g. Hollie Gazzard (which turns into a personal safety device) or Brightsky, (personal safety support).

Please remember it is not your fault and you are not alone. There are websites and resources below where you can seek help:

Theresa Hughes is an accredited Counsellor/psychotherapist, based at Havering Therapy Centre, Hornchurch –

Julie York is a Systemic Family Therapy practitioner specialising in supporting young people and their families –

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