Supporting Individuals At Risk
Savera UK is working within the Government Guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are limited in the direct support we can offer. Our helpline (0800 107 0726, 9am-5pm excluding bank holidays) is still open and support staff are available to help you.
We have all been told to stay home by the UK Government and Public Health to stop the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Home is supposed to be somewhere that we feel safe, but we know that for some people this is not the case.
If you are experiencing or are at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA), forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) or any other harmful traditional practice, then you may be self-isolating with someone who wants to or is harming you. This could be your partner, family or extended family.
No instances of ‘honour’-based abuse are too minor to report.
You are not alone.
What is ‘honour’-based abuse?
For many communities, ‘honour’ is very important. To dishonour your community or your family would mean that you have brought ‘shame’ on them by doing something that is not in keeping with the norms of traditional beliefs of their culture.
There are usually multiple people who are involved in the abuse and that can often be family members as well as members of the community who share your family’s beliefs.
There are often severe consequences to those whose family or community believe they have dishonoured them, including physical and physiological abuse, abandonment and also death.
Those who believe in these harmful practices will find ways to intimidate and control you. You could be at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse if you feel threatened or are abused when you try to:
- Dress in clothing outside of your cultural traditions
- Identify as being LGBTQ+
- Access higher education without the approval of your family
- Separate or divorce from your partner
- Refuse a marriage
- Interact freely with men when in public
- Become pregnant outside of marriage
- Marry someone that your family has not chosen for you
- Marry outside of your religion or caste
- Have sex before marriage
- Go against any other cultural traditions that your family or community believe
How do I know if I’m at risk?
You may feel at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse if:
- You are being threatened with assault, abduction or any other form of abuse, including sexual, financial and emotional abuse
- There are threats to kill
- Even under the government lockdown, you are experiencing excessive restrictions of freedom
- There have been discussions about an arranged marriage that you do not want to go through with (you have to consent to a marriage for it to go ahead otherwise it becomes a forced marriage)
- You/your child(ren) are being pressured to undergo female genital mutilation (“cutting” or “female circumcision”) or any other harmful traditional practice
- You feel that you are being held against your will and cannot leave the house (for essential items or exercise as allowed by government guidelines)
- You are strictly monitored even during government lockdown and are not allowed to use the phone, internet or other communication devices
- You are unable to contact friends
- You have had your wages or income confiscated by family members
- You are experiencing emotional pressure and control to do something you don’t want to do
- Your partner is using child contact as a way of controlling you (if you have orders in place, you can still speak with your solicitor to make sure that they continue to be enforced)
- Not given any choice and are told to be silent
What can I do to feel safe during lockdown?
Every experience of ‘honour’-based abuse is different and there will be ways to feel safe that work for others but might not work for you. You should do what feels safe for you, but here are some suggestions/ways you can feel safe or get to safety while in isolation:
- The government said that although we have to stay home, those at risk of abuse are allowed to leave in order to get help and seek refuge. If you are allowed to leave the house when getting essential items, and you feel safe doing so, use this time to find a way of contacting someone for help or getting a message to someone who may be able to help you. You can access the government guidance here
- Get a message to a neighbour you can trust to get help for you
- If you have a social worker, IDVA or other professional who contacts you regularly, tell them that you are living with your abuser(s). They can help develop a safety plan with you. You can access the SafeLives Guidance here
- Reach out to support services such as Savera UK who specialise in ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful practices and can provide culturally sensitive confidential support – helpline 0800 107 0726
- For some people, the lifeline of getting away from an abusive home may have been school, university, regular health checks and visits or work. If you are maintaining contact with these individuals, reach out to them for support
- Think about when lockdown is over. What you can do to get away from those causing you harm. Where could you go? Who can you ask for help? What would you need to take with you?
- If safe to do so, report your concerns to the police using 101 (non-emergency reporting)
- Use domestic abuse apps such as Hollie Guard and Bright Sky to get advice and support.
- Consultation rooms Boots are safe spaces where you can find the support you need.
What if I’m in immediate danger?
If you or someone you know are in immediate danger and are at risk of female genital mutilation, ‘honour’-based abuse, forced marriage or any other harmful traditional practices then please contact the police on 999.
The police ‘Silent Solution’ system will ensure that the police are aware if you are in need of urgent help but cannot speak. For this to work, the instructions are as follows:
1) Dial 999
2) Listen to the questions
3) Respond by coughing or tapping the headset if they cannot easily speak
4) If prompted – press 55 – and they will be put through to the police
If you are not in immediate danger, here is a list of other services who can support you:
- Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7008 1500 (out of hours helpline)
- NSPCC FGM Helpline: 0800 028 3550
- National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (24hr)
- Victim Support National: 0808 1689 111 (24hr)
- LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428
- Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327
- Samaritans: 116 123 (24hr)
Other Useful Information
- Women’s Aid: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/
- Government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-and-domestic-abuse
- SafeLives guide for survivors of domestic abuse during COVID-19: https://bit.ly/2y18JN4
- Savera UK resources: https://www.saverauk.co.uk/information-and-advice/resources/
If you, or someone you know, might be at risk of harmful practices, forced marriage, domestic abuse, or female genital mutilation and you fear they are in immediate danger ring 999
The police take these crimes very seriously and Savera UK will work with them to ensure the situation is handled sensitively and with the individual’s safety as a priority.
Savera UK is there to support our users both at the point of crisis and also to help them build their confidence and financial independence to ensure they go on to live a happy and fulfilled life.
We work in partnership with agencies to provide support and activities to help our users develop their independence and reduce their isolation. This includes English classes; confidence and self-esteem programmes; a wellbeing programme; and a family fun programme those with children.