NEWS
07/04/2020 7:18 PM AEST | Updated 07/04/2020 7:24 PM AEST

BBC News Host Writes Subtle Message To Domestic Abuse Victims On Hand

Domestic violence reports have surged during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting Victoria Derbyshire's move.

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A British TV anchor is being praised for presenting the news with the phone number for the United Kingdom’s national domestic abuse helpline printed on her hand in an effort to help viewers who may need it.

BBC host Victoria Derbyshire tweeted a photo of the number printed on the back of her hand Monday, highlighting the recent spike in domestic violence reports. Calls to the hotline have surged 25% amid the nation’s coronavirus lockdown measures, which have forced most people into extended confinement at home.

After taking the photo for her early-morning tweet, Derbyshire decided to leave the ink on her skin “in case it could help any of the millions watching after 9 a.m. on BBC 1,” she told CNN, adding that even before the pandemic, the fact that two women were killed each week by a partner or ex-partner in the UK was “shocking enough.”

“Now some will be trapped with a violent perpetrator in self-isolation or partial lockdown, and it’s even more vital to get the helpline number out there,” she said.

Refuge, the organisation that operates the helpline, said it had received hundreds of more calls in the last week than two weeks earlier, and traffic to their website was 150% higher than during the last week of February.

The problem is pervasive around the world. On Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted a “horrifying global surge in domestic violence,” appealing to world leaders to enforce pandemic measures that protect women facing violence at home.

In the US epicentre of the outbreak, New York, domestic violence calls to police have soared by as much as 20%, Melissa De Rosa, a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), said Friday. She vowed authorities would investigate each case and would work to help victims find shelter.

The U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline has received hundreds of calls directly citing coronavirus while reporting abuse, a spokesperson told The Guardian this week. The virus is being weaponised in a number of ways to further control and abuse, they said.

Many other nations have also reported an increase in calls and searches for help since stay-at-home measures have been enforced, including in China, Spain, France, Lebanon, Australia and Malaysia.

Need help? In Australia, call 1800 RESPECT (737 732) for the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service.