Press Release

9 April 2020

Refuge sees calls and contacts to National Domestic Abuse Helpline rise by 120% overnight.

Refuge, the UKs largest domestic abuse charity, sees calls and contacts to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline rise by 120% overnight.

Following significant media coverage of Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline, calls and contacts logged on the 06th April were up by 120% compared to the previous day.

While this dramatic increase shows that more women are asking for support during lockdown it is important to recognise that lockdown itself is not a cause of domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is rooted in power and control and stems from gender inequality. It does not occur by appointment – it happens all year round. We know that abusers systematically isolate their wives and partners. During lockdown this may be exacerbated with abusers using isolation as a tool of abuse.

The increase in calls and contacts to the helpline demonstrates why, more than ever, women need access to immediate help and support. However, Refuge’s concerns remain that women may find it more challenging to call for help during periods of protracted isolation. The true number of women experiencing domestic abuse is likely to be much higher and is why Refuge has also developed an online webform which women can use to access support if they are unable to call. This webform allows women to specify a safe time in which they can be contacted.

Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge said:

‘On Monday, Refuge released the first set of statistics which indicated an average increase in calls and contacts to its National Domestic Abuse Helpline of 25% since the UK entered lockdown measures. After significant media coverage directing women to Refuge’s Helpline, our statistics show that the number of calls we logged increased by 120%.

This is an enormous increase which underscores what we already know – domestic abuse is a scourge on society and must be addressed. Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Domestic abuse is a crime and it must be addressed.

We know that some forms of abuse are not as widely recognised as others. Domestic abuse is not just physical violence – it can be misuse of technology, economic abuse and coercive control. We hope that women seeing our public communications will feel reassured and supported and recognise that what they are experiencing is against the law and not acceptable. Women are not alone and Refuge is here to provide support.

Domestic abuse is a crime, and it is a choice a man makes. Only he is responsible for changing his violent behaviour.

We extend our thanks to media outlets who have diligently helped Refuge to make sure as many women as possible know the number for its National Domestic Abuse Helpline. 0808 2000 247 can save lives and we want every woman across the country to know that Refuge is providing round the clock support”

Natasha Saunders, a domestic abuse survivor who accessed the Helpline said:

“Living with my ex was like being inside a prison. He raped me repeatedly and he tried to control every aspect of my life. I can’t imagine being in this lockdown with him. Home was not a safe place for me – and it’s not a safe place for thousands of women living with abusive partners.
I understand the panic, fear and claustrophobia these women must be feeling at the moment, but help and support is out there.

With the support of the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, I was able to leave my ex-husband and start a new life with my family. The female adviser on the phone reminded me that I wasn’t alone. She validated my concerns and the abuse I was experiencing.

She gave me the courage to phone the police and ultimately saved my life. If you’re living with abuse during this pandemic, please know that you are not alone. The Helpline is there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All you need to do is call.”

If you need support, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, any time of day.

At the start of lockdown procedures being announced, Refuge undertook a huge technological operation and moved its entire Helpline, usually located in a cyber secure office environment, to an entirely remote system. This happened quickly and smoothly. Refuge has a full team working round the clock to ensure as many women as possible who need support are able to access it.

Almost one in three women across England and Wales, aged between 16-59, will experience domestic abuse at some point during their lifetime.

Now, more than ever, women need to know that confidential help and support is available and that Refuge stands with them today, tomorrow and in the future. Victims of domestic abuse are not alone.

Spokespeople available on request. Please contact the press office on 0207 395 7731 or email