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Australia Amid coronavirus lockdowns, use of online domestic violence reporting tool spikes

04:02  23 may  2020
04:02  23 may  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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MOSCOW – The number of domestic violence cases in Russia grew 2 1/2 times during the lockdown the government ordered to stem the spread of the coronavirus , Russia's human rights ombudswoman said Tuesday.

a man standing in front of a window: Domestic violence services say they are seeing signs victims are struggling to get help.  © ABC News: Danielle Bonica Domestic violence services say they are seeing signs victims are struggling to get help.  When news of the coronavirus shutdowns began to break, Joan* says she felt sick.

"He was going to be here 24/7, it was a nightmare," she told the ABC.

Joan had been in an abusive relationship but felt she could access help when she needed.

"He would go to work and there was time for myself," she said.

But the lockdown meant those moments of privacy were gone.

She had been planning on leaving her partner. Now, that felt impossible.

"It is like being stuck, in the worst way possible. I felt hopeless. And then the beatings started," she said.

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MOSCOW – The number of domestic violence cases in Russia grew 2 1/2 times during the lockdown the government ordered to stem the spread of the coronavirus , Russia's human rights ombudswoman said Tuesday.

Domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together, such as the Christmas and summer vacations, she said. In Spain, the emergency number for domestic violence received 18 percent more calls in the first two weeks of lockdown than in the same period a month earlier.

Joan, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, ended up seeking help through an online chat function late one night.

"Hopping on the phone and calling wasn't an option," she said.

Use of online chat tool spikes

In living rooms, hallways, bedrooms and kitchens across Australia, people have been increasingly using an online chat tool to seek help amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

The national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service 1800 RESPECT said between March and April, the use of its online chat tool had increased by 38 per cent.

The organisation said the increase represented close to 1,000 people, with more than 4,000 people overall seeking help through its webchats in March and April.

The organisation said for online chats, March and April in 2020 had been the second-busiest two-month period in the organisation's history.

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"Between April 2019 and April 2020, we have seen a 20 per cent rise in the use of the tool overall," a spokeswoman from 1800 RESPECT said.

The national hotline said it had also seen a spike in phone calls, but mostly after midnight while partners were asleep.

"Counsellors are now taking more calls from people who at the time of contact are in the same house as someone who uses violence," the spokeswoman said.

"More people are calling the service late at night, closer to midnight. This may be when the person using violence is asleep or the conversation cannot be overheard."

People were getting in contact for three primary reasons: experiencing violence while in isolation, being more fearful due to being in isolation with a violent partner, and concerns that escape was no longer an option.

The spokeswoman said callers would often arrange for a special code word to be used if the caller felt they were at very high risk and needed police called to their home.

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Domestic violence rates have surged in France and South Africa, according to Voice of America. In South Africa, authorities said there were nearly 90,000 reports of violence against women in the first week of a lockdown . Since the start of the pandemic, the U.N. reports that Lebanon and Malaysia

'Absolutely eerie' silence has shelter worried

Susan Crane runs Dawn House, a frontline domestic violence shelter in Darwin.

Unlike the national hotline, she said calls "dropped off a cliff" when the lockdown began.

"It was absolutely eerie, we were expecting to be run off our feet," she said.

"Usually the phone rings off the hook, then we were getting one or two calls a day, sometimes none.

"It's really disturbing; it isn't as if domestic violence has stopped overnight in the NT."

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, it is estimated that in Australia 2.2 million adults have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15.

"What we were hearing during the lockdown was abusive partners controlling women 24 hours a day, including their phone calls," Ms Crane said.

'We can't be the forgotten'

In the meantime, Joan is worried about others still in need of help.

"We can't be forgotten at this tough time," she said.

"I feel for all of those women who haven't been able to get help yet, I feel like one of the lucky ones."

*not her real name.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: If you need help or you have experienced domestic/family violence or sexual assault, call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to speak with a counsellor at the National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence hotline. If you require immediate assistance, call Triple Zero (000)

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