VICTIMS of domestic abuse are being urged not to suffer in silence.

The Government has made it clear that individuals are permitted to leave their homes, during the coronavirus lockdown, to escape domestic abuse.

Support services are still accessible for victims of sexual and domestic abuse during lockdown and Steve White, Durham's Acting Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, has urged victims to seek help.

He said: “With the new restrictions people are being advised to stay at home, however home may not be a safe environment for some individuals living with their abuser.

“Victims may feel like they are unable to get support or leave their home because of a national lockdown however if they are experiencing domestic and/or sexual abuse, restrictions do not apply.

“We strongly encourage victims of abuse to seek help but understand the difficulties of contacting the police through phoning or speaking directly to an officer.

“There are plenty of alternative ways to contact the police more discretely including codewords, social media or using the silent solution system when dialling 999.

“Victims can ‘Ask for ANI’ which has been developed to allow victims of domestic abuse to access support from the safety of their local pharmacy. Participating pharmacies will display posters in their windows to let people know that they can approach their staff to seek help.

“I want to remind victims, you are not alone, the police and specialist support services will continue to be there and provide crucial support during lockdown.”

The Ministry of Justice gave an extra £124,000 to the Office of the Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner in December 2020, on top of £400,770 allocated in June 2020, to provide services with additional resources so they can continue to deliver crucial support to victims of domestic and sexual abuse during COVID restrictions.

Mr White said the money has allowed services including HALO, Durham Pride UK and Harbour to cope with extra demand, address short-term financial loss and introduce creative ways to deliver support despite lockdown and national restrictions.

If you, or someone you know, is feeling anxious and unsafe in their home, visit or call 03000-202525 for help and advice. If you or someone else is in immediate danger always dial 999 and ask for the police.