Photo: Foundry Co. Photo: Foundry Co.

Hotline calls from victims of domestic violence have doubled in two months, a women’s rights advocacy group said today.

The surge in calls, attributed to the fact many victims cannot leave home to escape their abusers, has led AWARE to set up another helpline over Zoom for added convenience.

“As people are required to stay at home during Singapore’s circuit breaker, women in abusive relationships are more likely to experience violence at the hands of their spouses, partners and/or relatives, without the respite previously afforded by work, school or other daily activities,” the Association of Women for Action and Research wrote Friday.  

AWARE said it received 1,215 calls in the past two months, a bulk of which pertained to family violence. Others related to issues such as health, employment, and sexual violence. 

That was double the 619 AWARE received in March, which was already the highest recorded in the hotline’s 29-year history. 

a close up of a map: AWARE Helpline calls in April 2019 and 2020. Graphic: AWARE Singapore © Provided by Coconuts AWARE Helpline calls in April 2019 and 2020. Graphic: AWARE Singapore

The most calls it received on a single day was on April 14, just a week into Singapore’s “circuit-breaker” lockdown. Mental health services were still unavailable as they had been classified as non-essential by the government. 

AWARE’s new Zoom chatline aims to provide another avenue of support for those who don’t feel safe speaking on the phone at home. 

Those in need can schedule 30-minute chat appointments via AWARE’S website to chat with trained staff over Zoom, the suddenly ubiquitous teleconferencing service.

“These individuals may not have sufficient privacy to make a phone call in the same space as their family members or housemates. Helpliners have already noted a number of callers hanging up mid-call when abusers enter the room,” the group said. 

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Callers are provided emotional support and help connecting with counselors, legal clinics, crisis shelters, Family Service Centres, Family Violence Specialist Centres and the Family Justice Court.

Singapore has been straining at home. Late last month, the newly launched National Care Hotline was flooded with distress calls from residents seeking help with everything from emotional support, financial concerns, marital difficulties and fear of COVID-19.

AWARE Online text chat service

AWARE Women’s Helpline: 1800 777 5555

AWARE Sexual Assault Care Centre: 6779 0282

If you need urgent support relating to family violence, please reach out to your closest Family Service Centre and Family Violence Specialist Centre (call ComCare on 1800-222-0000 to find your closest one).

This article, Domestic violence calls doubled in two months: AWARE, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. 

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