Developing new portals to safety for domestic abuse survivors in the context of the pandemic

Stanley, Nicky orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7644-1625, Richardson Foster, Helen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1871-1578, Barter, Christine Anne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5682-5333, Houghton, Claire, Meinck, Franziska, McCabe, Leah and Shorrock, Sarah (2022) Developing new portals to safety for domestic abuse survivors in the context of the pandemic. Health & Social Care in the Community . ISSN 1365-2524

[thumbnail of VOR]
PDF (VOR) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Official URL:


Abstract: 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.

Repository Staff Only: item control page