Abusive partners used coronavirus as an extra weapon in domestic abuse in Sheffield

A controlling husband told his terrified wife she would be arrested and lose her child if she left the house during lockdown.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 4:45 pm

Sheffield Council says abusive partners used coronavirus as a new way to attack their victims, particularly in cases where people were already at high risk of serious harm or homicide through domestic abuse.

Spitting, using the threat of infection, threats to contact the authorities for breaching stay-at-home guidance and depriving people of their liberty have all been more common since lockdown.

There's particular concern about women from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The number looking for help during lockdown fell because there were too many barriers to get support.

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Sheffield town hall.

Specialist agencies have reported that some BAME women are likely to be more isolated and have less access to the usual agencies or technology to help them find support.

They may also have less access to information about agencies in their own languages.

Alison Hughes, of Sheffield Council, says in a report: "The higher level of incidence of Covid-19 in the BAME community has raised issues.

"The risk of isolation and coercive control by family members could be heightened as they argued that the victim should not leave the household to go to work for fear of them being exposed to Covid-19 in the workplace and bringing the virus back to the home.

"One mother who did not speak English told a service that she believed her abusive husband when he told her she wasn’t allowed to leave the home because the government wouldn’t allow it due to Covid-19, she would have her child removed and she would be arrested.

"During lockdown, employees that are experiencing domestic abuse may be more at risk due to isolation and the abuser using lockdown to control them further."

The council says it must invest in services for victims and perpetrators, increase capacity and have more specialist therapeutic support.