The second lockdown will again see a wave of domestic violence behind closed doors, a charity is warning.
Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SWA), which runs a refuge in the town, is expecting an increase in calls and referrals as victims attempt to escape their living nightmare.
Wiltshire Police urge victims not to suffer in silence, reminding them that support is always available.
During the initial hard lockdown, SWA found calls to the helpline actually fell as those in violent relationships struggled to safely call for help.
As restrictions began to ease the calls and referrals increased. June saw a 30 percent rise on last year in calls to the helpline and an almost 40 percent increase in Community Service referrals from male and female victims.
SWA CEO Emma Rawlings said: “Lockdown is absolutely the worst nightmare for victims.
"A controlling and coercive perpetrator will stop a victim having contact with friends and family, control their finances and, if you add in physical beatings and rape, then you have a potential life-or-death situation.”
SWA’s service supports those in the Swindon area 24 hours a day and across the whole of Wiltshire at evenings and weekends.
Det Supt Ben Mant of Wiltshire Police said: “It is a sad reality that domestic abuse is a crime that has been compounded by the covid-19 pandemic.
“We expect the news of the second lockdown will increase the anxiety levels of those who find themselves in abusive relationships and the perception will be that it is harder for them to escape their abusers.
“I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that support is always available from Wiltshire Police and our partners so that you don’t have to stay and suffer in silence.
“If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, we urge you to reach out for help, especially during the lockdown and we want to stress that you are not alone.
“You can call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency and contact one of the agencies mentioned above via the Wiltshire Police website: www.wiltshire.police.uk.”