There is no doubt lockdown has been a difficult time for everyone. 
With many households feeling the additional financial and emotional strain, it is easy for tensions to rise. However for some, that tension can result in domestic abuse. 
 
Domestic abuse can take many forms, including; incidents of coercive, controlling, threatening, degrading, or violent behaviour. It may also include sexual violence, as well as financial abuse. 
It encompasses female genital mutation, honour-based abuse, and forced marriages. 
 
The abuser is often a partner or an ex-partner, but they could also be a family member. Whilst it is more common for females to experience abuse at the hands of a male, there are also many cases of males experiencing abuse at the hands of a female. 
 
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence suggests an increase in reported cases, but with many other victims unable to access help due to lockdown restrictions, the true extent of the situation is yet to be seen. 
 
However there is a glimmer of light at the end of this very dark tunnel. On 14th January the government launched a new scheme to help abuse victims access the immediate help and support they need. 
The scheme known as Ask For ‘Ani’ (which stands for Action Needed Immediately) will run from Boots pharmacies nationwide, as well as many independent pharmacies. (You can identify which pharmacies are part of the scheme as they will display “Ask for Ani” posters.) 
 
To access help and support, abuse victims should enter their local participating pharmacy and ask a member of staff for “Ani”. They will then be taken to a private area and offered support from either the police, national helplines, or local support services. If required, staff can also assist with the call to the relevant agency. 
 
Further information, including useful telephone numbers, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help#get-help-if-you-or-someone-you-know-is-a-victim 
 
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