Domestic abuse and forced marriage helpline received 25% rise in calls this year

Two-thirds of callers got in touch to seek emotional support

Sophie Gallagher
Monday 09 December 2019 14:43
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Calls to a domestic abuse and forced marriage hotline have risen 25 per cent in the last year, according to new statistics.

The helpline, which is managed by Scottish Women’s Aid, dealt with 3,191 requests in 2019, including email contacts – 637 more requests than in 2018.

The majority of people who got in touch with Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (SDAFMH) were from Edinburgh or Glasgow and wanted to discuss historic, or ongoing, domestic abuse.

More than nine in 10 (95 per cent) calls were from women or from someone calling on behalf of a woman victim, while 5 per cent of calls were from men or someone calling on behalf of a man.

There were 27 calls about forced marriage, a number that hasn’t changed since 2018.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of callers got in touch to seek emotional support, while others wanted to talk about safety planning, Women’s Aid services, and ask questions about domestic abuse.

In terms of legal issues, child contact was the main legal problem that callers were concerned about – with many reporting that child contact was being used as a method of control.

The helpline provides confidential support 24/7, 365 days a year via phone or email to anyone with experience of domestic abuse or forced marriage, as well as family members, friends, colleagues and the professionals who support them.

Helpline manager Lydia Okroj said: “This has been the busiest and most challenging but by far the most rewarding, year of managing SDAFMH.

“For those experiencing domestic abuse or forced marriage, we are often the first point of contact after a long time building up the courage to speak out.

“It is a privilege to be that person on the other end of the phone, listening non-judgmentally and offering expert information and support.”

Okroj said that the helpline was successfully able to rise to the volume of calls and won their bid for the government to extend their helpline contract for the next five years.

“Both of these achievements speak to the quality of support provided by helpline staff and I am confident that anyone who calls will receive the best possible service,” said Okroj.

SDAFMH did not provide reasons behind the rise in calls, but the Crown Prosecution Service said earlier this month that reports of domestic abuse have risen 24 per cent in the last year.

Police recorded an average of one incident of domestic abuse per minute in the year ending March 2019, with 746,219 domestic abuse-related crimes recorded in total.

Sarika Seshadri, of lead domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid, told The Independent the trend was a “national travesty”.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247​.

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