THIRTY-FOUR domestic abuse victims have reached out to the council for help during the two months of lockdown when sufferers are likely to feel more vulnerable than ever.

Councillor Caroline McAllister, the council’s violence against women champion, said: “Domestic abuse leave victims with both physical and emotional scars and it can often mean they are too afraid to ask for help.

“I’m pleased that these 34 victims have been able to find the courage to come forward to get support during this crisis, and that our services have leapt to action to ensure they are properly protected.”

She added: “During the current pandemic distancing measures, victims are likely to feel more isolated and vulnerable than ever, however, the advice to stay at home does not mean that you cannot seek support.

“I know there will be many more women and men who are living in fear in their own homes during this, and I would encourage them to use the numbers below to ask for help.”

West Dunbartonshire Council said this includes 15 new direct referrals to the council’s dedicated tenant support service No Home For Domestic Abuse, including a victim who has been re-homed and others who received help with changed locks, financial advice and other support.

Another 19 cases have come through referrals to the homelessness team, who have provided temporary accommodation for victims using existing stock or with support from local housing partners.

Councillor Diane Docherty, convener of housing and communities, said for some people “staying at home is not safe”.

She added: “These additional cases highlight the very dangerous situation that some people are finding themselves in when they are following government guidance.

“I want to remind anyone who is suffering at the hands of a domestic abuser – you are not alone and there is help out there, so please get in touch.

“If you are a council tenant, our No Home for Domestic Abuse initiative can help with practical actions like lock changes, or changing tenancy names, and if you are not a council tenant we can also offer a range of support and advice. Please do not suffer in silence.”

The No Home for Domestic Abuse campaign, launched in 2018, introduced a range of support for victims including immediate access to practical help and legal assistance following any instance of violence in a council home. Since its launch, the service has helped 225 victims.

To contact the No Home for Domestic Abuse team please call 01389 738510, or to contact the homelessness teams you can call 01389 738282. (For out of hours please use the emergency Freephone number 0800 197 1004.)