BBC News Presenter Victoria Derbyshire Praised For Showing Domestic Abuse Hotline Number On Hand

by : Julia Banim on : 08 Apr 2020 14:48

BBC News presenter Victoria Derbyshire has been widely praised for reading the news with a domestic abuse helpline number written on the back of her hand.


This gesture was made just days after shocking figures from domestic abuse charity Refuge revealed there has been a 25% increase in calls to the helpline since isolation measures began. Within this very same time frame, website visits have skyrocketed by 150%.

During the programme, Derbyshire, 51, drew attention to this pressing issue; urging survivors currently trapped in abusive situations to use the 24/7 helpline.

Speaking with The Independent about why she chose to display this message, Derbyshire said:


Two women a week were killed by a partner or ex before coronavirus. A fact that is shocking enough.

Now, some people 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 so people know there is someone right now available to take your call and help you if you are in a violent or threatening situation.

I’d written the number on my hand to tweet a photo of it at 7am this morning and left it on my skin deliberately in case it could help any of the millions watching after 9am on BBC One.

According to Refuge, nearly one out of three women in England and Wales, between the ages of 16-59, will suffer domestic abuse at some point in their life. With people practising self-isolation across the UK, concern has grown for those currently isolated with their abusive partner.

In a press statement regarding the worrying rise in hotline calls, Sandra Horley CBE, Chief Executive of Refuge said:

This is an enormous increase which underscores what we already know – domestic abuse is a scourge on society and must be addressed. Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales. Domestic abuse is a crime and it must be addressed.

We know that some forms of abuse are not as widely recognised as others. Domestic abuse is not just physical violence – it can be misuse of technology, economic abuse and coercive control.

We hope that women seeing our public communications will feel reassured and supported and recognise that what they are experiencing is against the law and not acceptable. Women are not alone and Refuge is here to provide support.

Domestic abuse is a crime, and it is a choice a man makes. Only he is responsible for changing his violent behaviour.

After isolation procedures were announced, Refuge moved its entire Helpline to a remote system, a huge operation which is said to have gone ‘quickly and smoothly’.

Despite the current situation, a full team will continue working 24 hours a day to make sure at risk individuals are able to access support during the outbreak.


If a survivor finds themselves in immediate danger, they should call 999. If they cannot speak, there is a system in place which will automatically transfer them to an operator. They must then press 55 to be transferred to an immediate police emergency response.

Any woman experiencing abuse should call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, on 0808 2000 247. If you are unable to call, then you can visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk and fill in an online form, requesting a safe time to be called back. This online method of accessing support is especially important now when telephoning for help may be more difficult.

Women can also receive automated guidance via the Refuge chatbot on how to secure their devices.

Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, BBC News Presenter, domestic abuse, Refuge, Victoria Derbyshire


The Independent
  1. The Independent