New figures on domestic abuse cases suggest that rates of the crime have been rising in the UK during the Pandemic.
National Domestic Abuse helpline Refuge has received a startling number of calls for its services recently.
During the first lockdown calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline reached more than 40,000.
Due to the rise in technology, abusers have been using more tech-focused tools in order to control their partners, in particular using smart locks, webcams, social media, and sharing revenge porn, according to Refuge.
Locally, Cleveland Police recorded 580 domestic abuse crimes in Hartlepool during March and May alone, which is an increase of 87 from the year before.
Stockton rose from 783 to 907 during this same period and in Redcar and Cleveland domestic abuse cases rose from 597 to 638.
Only in Middlesbrough was there an actual decrease in cases.
Overall, Cleveland Police’s records rose by 6% to 3,031 domestic abuse cases in the last year.
And these are just the cases that are reported.
According to the Crime Survey of England and Wales, for the year ending in March 2018, just 18% of women who experienced partner abuse in the last 12 months reported the abuse to police.
Tuxtra spoke to a victim of domestic abuse from Teesside, named Kirstin, who wanted to tell me her story.
Kirstin said: “Lockdown made it easier to have control over me.”
“He used the fact he was the father of my children to take the girls, who are 11 and 10 now, overnight to his new girlfriends and never brought them back.
“He said my life would be at risk if I did anything.
“I contacted social services but they have now closed my case, even though he is still not allowing me access to my children. This is the only way he can control me after the relationship ended.
“We broke up in November, but he continued to live with me until lockdown started, and even then he still physically assaulted me and scared me into submission, taking away access to my bank account and access to medical help, the dentist, and even my own family.
“I sought help from a charity in Stockton and initially they called me back, but since April they’ve never called me back when I’ve called them.
“I think social care needs to listen to both sides more, not just one side. Even with COVID they could still email documents if they can’t send them. I never had a single document this whole time.”
“Refuges could help by calling people back, supporting them with regards to phone calls or regular emails, just checking in, things like that.
Kirstin advises anyone in a relationship, who is scared that the worst is going to happen, to speak out and find someone they can trust, even a worker in a shop will help them.
She found trust in a new friend (who is now her fiancé) and this person ended up saving her from the abuse of her former partner.
She said: “I had support where I didn’t even realise.”
“So many people came to me afterwards and said that they suspected something was going on with me ex but they didn’t want to falsely accuse him.”
If anyone would like support for anything mentioned in this article contact 101 to speak to the police directly, 999 if you are in immediate danger.