Coronavirus: Charities warn COVID-19 lockdown may cause spike in domestic violence

As the country takes on COVID-19, society's most vulnerable become even more exposed.

Those providing emergency shelter and food are bracing for an increase in demand as domestic violence is tipped to spike.

While safe houses for victims of abuse will remain open since they're classed as an essential service, domestic violence service Shines warns that violence at home will increase in the coming weeks.

Shine says the rise in violence will be similar to what happens at Christmas, where there's a spike in callouts since families are cooped up and stressed.

In Auckland, domestic violence went up by nearly seven percent during that December period, and in Hawke's Bay police callouts doubled.

And in the three weeks after the September Christchurch earthquake, police saw a 47 percent increase in reports of domestic violence.

Shine policy adviser Holly Carrington says there's likely to be an increase in severe emotional abuse.

"There are a lot of people out there who are experiencing abuse who have never named it as abuse," she said.

Food and emergency housing for the homeless are also classed as essential, but the COVID-19 response means there'll be changes for those who provide that service including no more hot food.

Chris Farrelly from the Auckland City Mission told Newshub it will keep providing what it can,

"We will continue to focus on the real sharp end of that real vulnerable group."

The shelter will remain open as it is classed as an essential service.

Agencies supplying essential services like food and safe houses want New Zealanders to know they are still available - and if you have a colleague, neighbour or friend who you think is in trouble, to get in touch. 

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