Domestic abuse victims are allowed to leave home to seek help at refuges despite rules to stop coronavirus spreading, the home secretary has said.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Priti Patel said current restrictions telling people to stay indoors are even harder for people whose “home is not the safe haven it should be”.
She also told abusers: “You will not get away with your crimes.”
It comes after police warned the new rules make victims more vulnerable.
Campaigners have also warned that elsewhere in the world, domestic abuse has already increased as more people at risk from abuse are forced to stay indoors with their abusers due to the pandemic.
“I am acutely aware that the necessary guidelines about social distancing and self-isolation may leave the victims of hidden crime, such as domestic abuse and child sexual abuse, feeling especially isolated, vulnerable and exposed,” said Ms Patel, in her newspaper column.
“But my message to every potential victim is simple: we have not forgotten you and we will not let you down.
“And my message to every perpetrator is equally as simple: you will not get away with your crimes.”
She said the government would protect victims, saying it has given £1.6bn to local councils to help those in need and was working with charities.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline was also continuing to operate, she said.
“Whilst our advice is to stay at home, anyone who is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, is still able to leave and seek refuge. Refuges remain open, and the police will provide support to all individuals who are being abused – whether physically, emotionally, or otherwise,” she added.