Given the collective trauma that the country and the world at large have been undergoing for the past two to three months, you would be forgiven for thinking that the murder of Chantelle Chetcuti took place a year ago instead of almost three months ago.

However, tragically, one of the worst things that this virus is highlighting time and time again is not only how lonely many people are, but also how potentially fatal this virus is for people who were already suffering domestic abuse when their partners weren’t stuck inside with them all day every day.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the BBC reported that The National Domestic Abuse helpline had seen a 25 per cent increase in calls and online requests for help since the English lockdown was called, whereas French officials stated that reports of domestic abuse have gone up by about 30 per cent since France went into lockdown in mid-March.

Last Sunday there was a spike in domestic violence reports and nine risk assessments were carried out

Of course, we don’t even need to go international: last Sunday alone there was a spike in domestic violence reports and nine risk assessments were carried out. This sudden surge came after numbers had dropped for the first weeks of our lockdown, which the Foundation of Social Welfare Services believes took place because victims were still getting used to their partners being around more often.

It is sadly inevitable that the longer we spend at home and the higher tensions and frustrations rise, the more our numbers will increase.

I am writing this here today because I believe that it is important for us to give a voice to the voiceless and to raise as much awareness as possible about a subject which has oftentimes been swept under the carpet.

Given the way our houses are built and our communities formed, I find it very hard to believe that many are ignorant to the suffering taking place in the houses next to them and I would like to urge those people to have the courage to step forward and phone Aġenzija Appoġġ support line on 179 if they hear something which is of concern to them. It could save someone’s life.

I would also like to send a message to any of the sufferers who are reading this and let them know that although it may not always feel like it, they are not alone and that help is always available to them should they need it.

The same goes to all the children that used their schools and teachers as a refuge and can no longer do so. There are many people who are here for you and ready to listen to you with kindness, understanding and without judgement.

Above all, it is important that as a community we understand the importance of lifting each other up. We are only as strongest as our weakest and it is our civic, if not human, duty to ensure that all are safe both from the virus itself as well as its side effects.

We all have the right to be able to associate our homes with comfort and safety; no one should have to feel scared in the one space that should always be one of shelter.

Let’s not just say that we are all in this together, but actually mean it.

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