The Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the experiences of domestic abuse helpline service users and staff will be examined by University of the West of Scotland researchers.
The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19 and is expected to take 18 months. It will explore the impact of lockdown measures on those living with domestic abuse, while also examining the impact of increased service demand on the wellbeing of helpline staff.
The project will identify any lockdown-related changes in the frequency, severity, and nature of abuse, importantly considering the impact of and on children within the home, and the consequent impact on service users’ mental health and wellbeing. This will help determine the support needs of those living with domestic abuse as we emerge from the pandemic, as well as examining its long-term consequences.
Dr Zara Brodie, Principal Investigator and Lecturer in Psychology at University of the West of Scotland, said: "Mobility restrictions enforced by the UK Government in March 2020 resulted in those vulnerable to domestic abuse being confined in isolation with their abusers, deprived of safe spaces or opportunities for help or support. This saw a spike in engagement with domestic abuse helplines during lockdown, but little is known about the nature of these calls, the experiences of service users during lockdown, or the impact of this surge on domestic abuse helpline staff, which is what our research aims to investigate.
“Initial reports illustrate that lockdown measures have been associated with a substantial increase in the prevalence and severity of domestic abuse. However, no research has examined potential changes in the nature of this abuse, or the impact of lockdown on victims and others in the home. This is important to aid in the development of support plans for victims of abuse going forward.”
Dr Brodie, alongside Dr Roxanne Hawkins and Dr Chloe MacLean from UWS, is working directly with several domestic abuse helplines to gain understanding of the lived impact of lockdown on their service users and staff.