This month, as Eastenders returned to our TV screens, a harrowing domestic abuse storyline involving Gray and Chantelle continues to unfold.
Viewers have learned that during lockdown, Gray’s abuse of victim Chantelle has worsened.
Superintendent Shelley Hemsley, force lead for domestic abuse, said: “We know that the stay at home guidance and lockdown measures earlier this year caused considerable worry and anxiety for victims, especially those who had to remain at home with their abuser.
“Domestic abuse can take many forms – it can be emotional, psychological, sexual, physical, financial, verbal – any and all of which can cause significant trauma and fear for victims.
“Abusers can be controlling, restricting a victim’s access to their phone or electronic devices, preventing them from seeing friends and family. During lockdown, while so many people were unable to see their friends and loved ones, victims of domestic abuse may have found it even harder to reach out for help.”
In April, South Yorkshire Police launched a dedicated online domestic abuse reporting portal, for victims who are unable to use a telephone to call 101. You can report concerns here: https://www.reportingcrime.uk/SYPDA/
Supt Hemsley continued: “Making sure victims of domestic abuse in South Yorkshire had another means of reporting their abuse was incredibly important as we knew that for many, using a phone to make a call while in lockdown may not be possible.
“The online portal means that victims don’t have to phone us and can submit a report in writing when they can, and it will be treated and investigated the same way as a report would over the phone. It doesn’t go to an unmonitored inbox – we have a dedicated team of staff who are absolutely committed to safeguarding victims of domestic abuse.
“I would, however, still urge victims who are in immediate danger to phone 999. If you are in a situation where you can’t speak to us, please make use of the ‘Silent Solution’. This means that when you call 999, the operator will instruct you to press ‘55’. This tells the operator that you are in immediate need of help and they will listen to what they can hear in the background, making an assessment of the police response required.”