Insights Probation worker helps victim escape from her abusive relationship during lockdown
07 October 2020

Probation worker helps victim escape from her abusive relationship during lockdown

Supporting domestic abuse victims

A victim suffering abuse from her partner says things “got worse” during the coronavirus lockdown and thanks to employees at Seetec's probation service she was able to escape.

Natalie* was on probation in Bristol for a fraud offence after stealing money from a former employer.

She says the abuse in the relationship hadn’t started immediately. It had been gradual, and at first, her partner was very romantic and charming. But years into the relationship that began to change.

Natalie said: “While there was never any physical abuse, there was lots of verbal abuse. My partner would intimidate and threaten me. He criticised everything I did. He would also tell me what I could and couldn’t do and was constantly checking my phone. I felt like I was walking on eggshells.”

Just before lockdown, Natalie lost her job. Her partner started withholding money from her and tried stopping her from seeing or talking to her daughter. She began to fear for her safety. The lockdown made Natalie’s situation worse, with tensions in her relationship bubbling over.

Thankfully, her probation work at Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire Probation Services was able to spot the signs she was being abused and offered her support – something our our Learning and Development team events have trained them to do.

She referred Natalie to one of our support workers, Sam Winn, who had started running a Safer Wednesday’s group to support victims in response to the surge in domestic abuse cases during the pandemic.

The very same day Natalie came to the probation office, Sam helped her and her son find emergency accommodation. There wasn’t any space at a refuge, so Victoria stayed in a hotel.

Sam phoned Natalie every day and delivered her food parcels as she had nothing with her, except the clothes on her back.

Eventually, Natalie moved into the refuge. With our help, she also found a job.

Natalie says: “I am so grateful for Sam and my probation officer’s support to leave my relationship. I dread to think what would have happened if I had stayed. Things would have only got worse. Thankfully, I now feel safe, and I’ve started working again.”

Natalie’s support worker, said: “We’ve seen a huge surge in domestic abuse cases since the onset of Covid-19. For Natalie and other abuse victims, it’s been important for us to reach out to them during this time. I’m glad we’ve been able to support Natalie and many more during lockdown to move on with their lives without the fear of abuse or violence.”

During the six months of lockdown, police received a call about domestic abuse every 30 seconds. Calls to domestic abuse helplines have also rocketed. In response, our probation services have increased their training of employees to help them respond to domestic abuse in the new Covid-19 world. They’ve also increased their contact with known victims of abuse.

Find out more about how we are training our employees to respond to domestic abuse in the following blog, Domestic abuse: Recogising the role of training to equip probation staff

Combining research with our social care, employability, criminal justice, and offender management skills, Seetec Justice can offer a wide range of skills and services to make communities safer and reduce crime, from change behavioural programmes, to research and learning and development consultancy services. For further information, contact us today.