Women living with an abusive partner are experiencing increased anxiety and fear at the prospect of isolating in their home during the coronavirus lockdown.
That grim warning has been given in a hard-hitting statement from Dumbarton District Women’s Aid.
The charity said the lockdown offers abusers more opportunity for control and dominance while women, children and young people will experience greater isolation and risk of harm – both physically and mentally.
It adds that many women who do not live with their abuser may also feel an increased level of fear at the prospect of their abuser knowing that they are isolating at home.
The charity’s worries have been echoed by Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie and West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes. 
Ms Baillie said the stress that victims of domestic abuse must be under just now is “unimaginable”.
She added: “Being forced to remain in one place for days at a time and putting yourself and your loved ones at risk by doing so is an extremely stressful situation to be in.” 
She said the Scottish Government must act quickly to support the needs of women in this situation by increasing emergency funding for the vital organisations that offer support.
Mr Docherty-Hughes said: “These are challenging times and for the majority of people the safest place to be just now is at home with their families. 
“But for some, the home isn’t as safe as it should be; especially for those who are vulnerable and at risk of domestic abuse.
 “For those in that situation the clear message is that you are not alone – a place of safety can be found for you and you can reach out in confidence.”
The charity told the Reporter: “Many perpetrators of domestic abuse will manipulate this situation as an opportunity to increase their surveillance on their partner or ex-partner’s movements, and use this to assert control and play mind games.
“We are also concerned about the impact of coronavirus on children and young people experiencing domestic abuse, who right now cannot attend school or nursery – the places many of them feel safest.”
​Prior to the pandemic, the charity had seen a widespread increase in demand for support about domestic abuse and coercive control.
While stating it is still too early to tell whether the charity will see an increase in relation to coronavirus, it anticipates the increase in demand will continue.
In a message to women at risk of abuse, the charity says: “We are still here for you and our specially trained staff remain committed to your safety. Reach out to us if you need support or information.
“Abuse is never your fault and cannot be blamed on your partner or ex-partner’s frustration around coronavirus.
“We will listen to you, believe you and offer you support at this time and for as long as you need it.”
Councillor Caroline McAllister, West Dunbartonshire Violence Against Women Champion, shared the concerns expressed by Dumbarton Women’s Aid and called for extra vigilance.
She said: “We know domestic abuse and violence increases during holiday times so this enforced confinement concerns me greatly.
“I’d urge family, friends and neighbours to be extra vigilant and should they hear or see something that causes them concern to contact the police on 101 if it’s a non emergency. 
“However, if they believe it requires an urgent response please do not hesitate to ring 999.”