Today, Women’s Aid Federation of England – the national domestic abuse charity – has launched ‘The Lockdown’, a chilling campaign raising awareness of the increased dangers of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
The work, by ENGINE Creative and production company Knucklehead, draws attention to the empty streets and public spaces throughout the UK whilst the nation is on lockdown to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. During this period, domestic abusers and their partners are self-isolating together at home, and there are real concerns that households living together in close proximity for extended periods may see an increase in abusive incidents. -19 will not cause domestic homicides – only abusers are responsible for their actions – but the pandemic does, however, threaten to escalate abuse and close down routes to safety for women to escape.
Between 26th March and 1st April, Women’s Aid experienced a 41% increase in users visiting their Live Chat site, compared to the previous week, with a marked increase in visitors across all digital support services. The Women’s Aid COVID-19/Coronavirus advice page for survivors has had 27K page views since its launch.
The creative work was created on a pro bono basis by a team of collaborators who worked within the current government guidelines. Footage was captured on phones as part of daily exercise excursions and shared remotely. Editing, grading and reviews were all done from home working spaces and thanks to online conference calls, resulting in a campaign of work created by a team who never once met.
Christopher Ringsell, Creative Director at ENGINE, said:
“ENGINE have supported Women’s Aid for many years and in this unsettled time of lockdown the need to help women and children that are stuck inside with abusive partners is more urgent than ever.
Between the creatives and the director we have pooled our resources to go out and independently self-shoot this work responsibly under the government guidelines, using our exercise time to document the changing face of our cities in the areas we reside.
The Lockdown is a tense and scary time for everyone but to think that many venerable women and children have to face this period with an abusive partner in the same place means that home is not always a safe haven.
It’s been an incredible effort by all involved, talented people getting behind this idea, sharing their skills and collaborating on this campaign without ever actually being in the same space together! I salute you all…”
Nicki Norman, Acting Chief Executive at Women’s Aid, said:
“We are grateful to ENGINE for producing this powerful campaign and we hope it makes people realise that while home may be the safest place to protect ourselves from the virus, it is certainly not a safe place for women and children who are indefinitely trapped with a perpetrator of abuse.
COVID-19 household-isolation is having a direct impact on survivors with abuse already escalating and we have seen this reflected in demand for our digital services. Accessing support online can be a safer option for survivors unable leave the household as it can be done discreetly, quietly and in private. The restrictions of the pandemic have shut down many physical routes to safety and support.
Our digital services are here to support survivors during this frightening time but, in an already extremely challenging funding climate, we need urgent funding to be able to continue providing these vital lifelines.
We also expect that our national network of local specialist services will be overwhelmed by demand and in urgent need of support. Please consider how you can support your local domestic abuse service.”
The work will run on social channels and in donated media including The Guardian print and digital, as well as Sky and Eurosport, thanks to help from Essence.