Long: Staying at home vital but help is still available for victims of domestic abuse

Date published: 29 December 2020

The ‘stay at home’ message has never been more important if we are to protect the health service and save lives but this does not mean victims of domestic violence will be forgotten.

justice minister naomi long

That was the message today from Justice Minister Naomi Long who stressed that help and support is available for those who find themselves in an abusive relationship.

Naomi Long said: “Over the six week period starting from December 26, it is essential that we stay at home and work from home as much as possible. By staying at home, we cut down our contacts with others and so give Covid-19 much less opportunity to spread. Staying at home is vital if we are to keep each other safe, protect the health service and save lives but I fully appreciate that for those in an abusive relationship staying at home means they do not feel safe at all.

“I am acutely aware that perpetrators of abuse will think they exploit the pandemic to exert more psychological and physical control. No one should feel that they are a hidden or forgotten victim.

“Executive Departments continue to liaise with statutory and voluntary sector partners to ensure a joined up response for those who are vulnerable and require protection.  This has included provision of much needed support, advice and practical help such as accommodation and free public travel for those going to a refuge or emergency accommodation.

“I am keen to ensure that victims know that they are not alone and that support remains available during this challenging period.” 

The 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is available to call free of charge 24/7 on 0808 802 1414, with non-verbal options also available via the internet or instant messaging. For those who need to call 999 but are scared to speak, a 'silent solution' exists to press 55 when prompted. This allows police to know it is a genuine emergency.

Notes to editors: 

1. The Domestic and Sexual Abuse (DSA) helpline is available 24/7, for both men and women on 0808 8021414. It’s free and confidential.

2. Web chat is also available at dsahelpline.org or email help@dsahelpline.org

3. Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or via www.childline.org.uk

4. Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email to: press.office@justice-ni.gov.uk

5. Follow the department on Twitter @Justice_NI

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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