Horrific reports of domestic violence has resulted in Trafford Labour taking a zero tolerance stance against abuse after stressing fears that hundreds of victims are suffering in silence.
Local politicians also fear that many perpetrators may have capitalised on victims being away from support networks due to the coronavirus pandemic and weeks of self-isolation.
The administration says it is committed to supporting people who need help, so that families and communities can live free from any form of violence and exploitation.
Cllr Adele New, who represents Bucklow St Martins ward, has tabled a motion calling for cross-party support to promote awareness of domestic abuse throughout the borough.
Speaking at Full Council, on Wednesday, Cllr New gave a chilling account of how a local baby boy was airlifted to hospital, two-years-ago, with fatal injuries inflicted by his father.
“The mother had gone to the doctors – and when she returned, life as she knew it had been irreversibly destroyed,” explained Cllr New.
“In the hours that followed some neighbours, overcome with grief and guilt, spoke out about the violent shouting and screaming that regularly came from the flat the couple shared – and of the mother’s wary appearance and reluctance to speak when in the company of her partner.
“There is so much more to this tragic story than I could possibly detail, as there are to the millions of domestic abuse cases registered each year. And while the council notes that all children are victims too, how many are seeing it, experiencing it, and living in crippling fear of it, and how many lives are being destroyed both physically and psychologically?”
Cllr New said that UK police forces were inundated with calls during the first two months of lockdown; they included reports of violent offences, kidnap, revenge porn, arson, rape and poisoning.
The UN has described the worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a ‘shadow pandemic’ alongside Covid-19.
Cllr Dr. Serena Carr, who represents Broadheath ward, echoed her colleagues concerns and fears for those living with an abuser.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse for victims of domestic abuse,” said Cllr Carr.
“Financial uncertainty, anxiety and isolation have all had a profound negative effect. Domestic abuse is strongly associated with heavy alcohol use, and this has sky-rocketed over the lockdown period, resulting in a toxic mix and making victims more vulnerable than ever.
“In my work, I sadly see victims of domestic abuse regularly. Like the young woman who had her fingers broken with a hammer for attempting to report her violent partner, and then was run over as she tried to run away. Or the woman who had her teeth pulled out with pliers. Or the woman who was violently raped for asking her husband not to drink too much.
“I’m sure all of us are fed up of lockdown, none of us have enjoyed it. But for some, lockdown has been a living hell, with constant exposure to an abusive partner.
“This motion could make a real difference to victims – and I therefore urge all members to support it.”
Cllr Karina Carter, Lead Member for Education, expressed her worry for those people living in constant fear – and urged central government to develop a long-term funding strategy to meet increasing demand.
“The true impact will become clearer down the line, but at the moment we all have a critical role to play in rising awareness of domestic abuse,” said Cllr Carter.
“Covid-19 has laid bare the lack of protection and support for women and children and demonstrated the urgent need for change.
“The Domestic Abuse Bill must be underpinned by sustainable funding for life saving specialist support services if it is to make a real difference to survivors’ lives.”
For help and support:
Call TDAS: 0161 872 7368 or find us at: Gorse Hill Studios, Cavendish Road, Stretford, M32 OPS.
Trafford Domestic Abuse Services (TDAS) who offer support to individuals and families living or working in the Trafford area who are suffering or who have suffered domestic abuse.
TDAS provide both intervention and prevention services and work in partnership with other voluntary organisations to support families across Greater Manchester.