Stay at home does not mean suffer at home - domestic abuse during COVID-19

Recent news reports have indicated that during the current restrictions on movement due to COVID-19, there has been a rise in domestic abuse incidents.
The Department of Justice, in conjunction with its statutory and voluntary partners, has re-launched its domestic violence and abuse campaign ‘see the signs’.

We know that those experiencing domestic abuse may feel more vulnerable during this time of isolation at home when home may not feel safe.  This article outlines some help/support which is available for you personally, for someone you may know who may be in an abusive relationship or if you have concerns about a child. Contact numbers for various organisations are included in the support link.

Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between people who are or have been, intimate partners or family members. There is no acceptable level of abuse in a home, it is not inevitable and there is support available. No one should live in fear.

Together we all have a part in making it stop. It's important that any one experiencing domestic abuse, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should be able to access the support that they need.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse

There are a number of organisations which you can contact for support.

In an emergency where you feel threatened or need immediate assistance you should call the PSNI on 999.

If you are unable to speak during an emergency call or are afraid of further danger of harm if overheard, you can use the ‘silent solutions’ system established by PSNI. This system enables a 999 caller who is too scared to make a noise or speak, to press 55 when prompted to let police know it is a genuine emergency and that urgent help is needed.

You can report non-emergency incidents on the PSNI website and have a look at the practical advice offered. You can also contact the PSNI for advice and support in non-emergency situations by calling 101.

The Government funded and independent 24 hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse helpline, which is run by Nexus, is available to support both male and female victims of domestic violence and abuse. The Helpline can be contacted on: 0808 802 1414. 

Additionally, Women’s Aid has provided specific advice relating to COVID 19, including safety advice, help and support and what to do if you are thinking of leaving.

Both the Men’s Advisory Project and the Men’s Action Network are available to provide help and support for male victims and Rainbow is also available to support victims within the LGBT community. (Contact details are included below.)

For general information on how to seek support as well as information on signs of domestic abuse, please visit nidirect 

If you are concerned about a child

If you are worried about a child who may be in an unsafe environment, even if you are unsure, you should contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or email The NSPCC website provides useful information including an online form to report concerns.

Current Government advice states that, where possible, all children, including those who are vulnerable, should stay at home; however, there may be some instances where continued access to education settings provides a safer option, including for those affected by domestic abuse. Schools, in conjunction with parents and social services (where children have a social worker) should work closely together on determining the safest option for each child. 

For more information contact

If you are concerned for someone else’s safety

You might be particularly concerned about a family member, a friend or a colleague at the moment, if they are at home with their abuser. Always encourage them to call 999 in an emergency. Encourage them to reach out for online support such as Women’s Aid’s Survivors’ ForumLive Chat or Email.

Do not approach the perpetrator about their behaviour, this could escalate the abuse and put them in further danger. It is also important that you do not put yourself in a dangerous situation.

Look out for the ‘see the signs’ campaign which focuses on the fact that domestic abuse can take many forms, such as humiliation, control and violence.  This campaign is live on TV, radio and social media and encourages people to recognise domestic abuse, to see the signs and to ask for help by calling PSNI on 101 or the 24 hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse helpline on 0808 802 1414.

If you are worried about hurting someone

If you are worried about hurting your loved ones while staying at home The Men’s Advisory Project (MAP) offers a range of services to men and women who want assistance and support to deal with their anger. These services are available to those who wish to understand powerful emotions, cope better with stress in their lives and adopt more appropriate behaviours for healthy relationships.

Respect is a UK wide organisation which also provides support.

Further Support

Anyone who feels in immediate danger should dial 999

For non-emergency assistance the PSNI also has Domestic Violence Officers

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)

Domestic Violence Officers are available in all areas (ask to speak to the local Domestic Violence Officer)

Tel: 0845 600 8000



There are also a range of other specialist organisations that are there to support victims and those who are working with them or their family and friends. For more information and advice about where to get help contact:


Welfare Support Services

1st Floor
2-4 Bruce Street

Tel: 028 902 51771




Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline
24/7 support for men and women

Freephone: 0808 802 1414




Women’s Aid Federation NI
129 University Street

Tel: 028 9024 9041





119 University Street, Belfast, BT7 1HP
Tel: 028 9032 6803


38 Clarendon Street, Derry/Londonderry, BT48 7ET
Tel: 028 7126 0566


104 Irvinestown Road, Enniskillen, BT74 6CQ
Tel: 028 6632 0046


Men’s Advisory Project

5th Floor Glendinning House
6 Murray Street

Belfast: 028 9024 1929
Foyle: 028 7116 0001



Men’s Action Network

Tel: 02871 377777



Rainbow Project


23-31 Waring Street
Tel: 028 9031 9030


20 Strand Road
Orlan House
BT48 7AB

Tel: 028 7128 3030




Transgender NI

Tel: 0300 302 3202



The Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre

24/7 support and services for anyone who has been sexually abused, assaulted or raped.

Freephone 0800 389 4424


Victim Support Northern Ireland

Central office
Tel:  02890 243133

Belfast Hub
Tel: 02890 243133


Foyle Hub
Tel: 02871 370086



Related articles

Back to top