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Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(21)2022 Oct 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2090180


When the COVID-19 pandemic manifested urgent concerns were raised around the globe about the increased risk that public health restrictions could pose for victims of domestic abuse. Governments, NGOs and community services swiftly responded to convey the message that services for victims were operational and restrictions did not apply to those fleeing harm. This paper reports on the various approaches used to communicate this public health messaging during COVID-19, further highlighting strengths and learning which could inform future crises messaging. It utilises data gathered through a rapid review and mapping of policy and practice initiatives across 4 high-middle income countries: UK, Australia, South Africa and Ireland. Four themes were identified: (1) Top-down: National media messaging; (2) Top-down: Political leadership; (3) Traditional media vs. social media and (4) Bottom-up messaging: Localised, community-based messaging. It was found that a strong, clear top-down stance on domestic abuse was perceived as beneficial during COVID-19. However, a stronger focus on evaluation, reach and impact, particularly for minority groups may be required. Newer forms of media were shown to have potential in conveying messaging to minority groups. Community and grassroots organizations demonstrated their experiential knowledge in reaching target audiences. Harnessing this expertise for future crises messaging may be valuable.

COVID-19 , Social Media , Humans , COVID-19/epidemiology , Government , Pandemics , Public Health
Health Soc Care Community ; 2022 Oct 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2088215


This study examined the emergence and implementation of community touchpoints established in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic for victims/survivors of domestic abuse (DA). Community touchpoints are designated places, both online and in accessible settings such as pharmacies and banks, where victims/survivors can seek confidential advice and be directed to expert DA services. The research adopted a case study approach and explored a range of perspectives through expert interviews, document analysis, consultation with survivors and stakeholders and a survey of DA co-ordinators. Four national community touchpoint schemes were identified and, of these, three were implemented rapidly and were available in 2020-2021 when the UK experienced lockdowns. Partnerships between Government/voluntary organisations and commercial businesses-assisted design and implementation. Some stakeholders considered that the schemes lacked responsivity to the local context and noted challenges in providing a confidential service in rural areas. Whilst pharmacies, banks and online spaces were identified as non-stigmatised and trusted places to seek advice, community touchpoints were judged less accessible for some groups including those experiencing digital poverty and victims whose movements were heavily scrutinised. Most of the touchpoint schemes targeted adults only. There were also concerns about whether frontline staff in commercial businesses received sufficient training. Whilst robust evidence of outcomes was limited, there were indications that the schemes had achieved good reach with some early evidence of take-up. Testimonials indicated that victims/survivors were using the touchpoints in flexible ways which met their needs. Moreover, the wide reach and visibility of these initiatives delivered in non-stigmatised settings may have served to raise public awareness of DA, reducing the silence that has traditionally surrounded it. Further research into the use and impact of these initiatives is required and there may be future potential to extend community touchpoints to include children and young people experiencing DA.

J Fam Violence ; 37(6): 951-957, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-754407


Stalking involves repeated unwanted communication, harassment, and intrusive behaviour. This brief report draws on a service evaluation undertaken immediately prior to and during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic creates a paradox when considering safety in the home, but it is important to recognise the dangers this presents to many victims of stalking. The information presented in this report is based on existing literature and early evidence from semi-structured interviews and discussions with 15 victims and six practitioners. Whilst lockdown measures might appear to be a time when victims are less accessible to their stalkers, early evidence from this study suggests that their vulnerability is increased. Technology has helped to facilitate stalking behaviours by providing stalkers with new approaches to control, humiliate, threaten and isolate their victims. Some lockdown restrictions have provided increased opportunities for stalkers to monitor their victims and the professional uncertainty and recognition around stalking has continued, coupled with delays in the criminal justice system. The COVID-19 crisis has reversed gains made by stalking victims and has imprisoned some victims in their homes making their whereabouts easier to monitor. Stalking behaviour has not ceased as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions and the risk of harm to victims remains significant. Effective practice, policy and legal responses are required for both the victims and perpetrators of stalking during the pandemic and afterwards.