Coronavirus: Boots Opens Safe Spaces For Victims Of Domestic Violence During Lockdown


“Saba” was already in an abusive relationship, but it intensified considerably once the lockdown started.

All his movements in the house were monitored and his lack of contact with people outside the home was absolute.

Saba’s husband had confiscated his phone because he caught her texting a family member about how she was being treated.

She told Sky News, “I couldn’t go out. And it would be violent. He was a very, very angry person. He pulled my hair and hit me on the head. “

The situation got so bad that at one point, she tried to kill herself.

Fortunately, she was able to escape and find shelter for women but, starting today, there is a new way for people like Saba to find help.

Victims of domestic violence will be able to access safe spaces in the consultation rooms of Boots pharmacies where they can contact specialized services for help and advice, without asking questions.

Posters advising people that support space is available will be placed around the stores, and Boots staff will receive information on how to identify potential victims.

The initiative is launched by the Hestia UK Says No More charity campaign.

Boots pharmacy
Boots offers service from today

Reports of domestic violence sent to the police by Crimestoppers almost doubled during the lockdown, with more than 4,000 domestic abuse arrests in London in six weeks.

But charities believe there will be an even greater flow of people seeking refuge at the end of isolation, and a service like this will be vital for victims of domestic violence like Saba.

She was in an arranged marriage in Pakistan before moving to her husband’s home in the Midlands in 2018 – and that’s where the abuse started.

Married as a teenager, but now in her twenties, Saba says her husband and family treated her like a slave.

She was woken up by her mother-in-law and cleaned and cooked, not only for her husband but also for her parents and four brothers.

“My mother-in-law forced all the work on me. She controlled everything in the house, ”she said.

“She put me to clean, wash, cook. If they didn’t like cooking, they would mistreat me. I said to myself, I’m wrong. I blamed myself. “

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In two years, she didn’t even venture to her local grocery store.

If she wanted to go to the doctor, she was told “no” and given paracetamol.

She was never allowed to enter a room alone.

You might think it couldn’t get worse, but in the confinement cells, the family members who were no longer working were no longer present and the pressure on Saba became unbearable – so she planned an escape.

Lyndsey Dearlove, who heads the UK Says No More project, said that in many cases locking restrictions make matters worse for victims of domestic violence.

She told Sky News, “Abusers have complete control over all channels of communication, from email to hitting on next door neighbors and having a quick chat. These activities are stopped or monitored. “

Meanwhile, victims of domestic violence do not feel able to access support.

Priti Patel

Coronavirus campaign against domestic abuse launched

Hestia, who provides refuge for victims of slavery and abuse, says the number one question she has heard from anyone who has managed to escape since the lockdown is “are the services still open?” “

So from that point on, they wanted new ways to reach people.

Dearlove says pharmacies are still classified as essential stores during foreclosure, so victims can easily access services.

“In Boots, this can be done so that someone can step in and spend an additional 10 minutes phoning a dedicated help desk and letting them know they need help,” he said. she declared.

“Let’s say if they were being watched, it’s pretty easy to explain, you can just say you had to queue or wait for a prescription. “

Saba is still extremely traumatized, but her caregiver in Hestia says her situation is not unusual.

Tami said, “I see a lot of women who blame themselves and therefore hurt themselves when they are with their abuser. Probably 90% of women.

“There is more fear during locking, fear of reaching out and women don’t know they can leave. But the social workers are there. We are here regardless of what is going on. “

Royal Pharmaceutical Society President Sandra Gidley said, “During the pandemic, when the options for survivors and victims are even more limited than usual, pharmacies can provide the safe environment necessary for support .

“The public’s trust in pharmacies makes it a great place to access help and take a step away from the harm toward a better future.”

If the victims of abuse can reach a telephone, they must call 999 and dial 55. If you cannot press 55, remain silent and it will automatically connect to the police. For those seeking support, there is also a 24-hour national shelter number: 0808 2000 247.


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