Viewpoint | 09 Dec 2022

Domestic abuse: ‘Standing by is no longer an option’

To mark the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, Nicki Lyons, Vodafone’s UK Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, outlines what Vodafone is doing to support those affected by this issue.

Tackling domestic abuse is an issue close to my heart – and it’s an issue that’s a priority for Vodafone, too.

We have a long history of supporting people affected by domestic abuse, both within our own organisation and in local communities. But continuing to raise awareness is vital.

As Christmas approaches, we know that unfortunately rates of domestic violence and abuse increase around this time. Research also shows a similar disturbing spike in incidences whenever the England football team plays.

And the cost-of-living crisis is likely to exacerbate the situation for many: domestic abuse is three times more likely to occur when family couples are experiencing financial stress.

So it’s critically important we all consider what action we can take, now.


Vodafone’s charities.connected programme, launched in 2021, gives every UK registered charity the opportunity to apply for free connectivity to improve its digital capability or to help the individuals and families it supports to get online.

To date, the initiative has helped more than 1,900 organisations across a range of social causes, including domestic abuse, homelessness, digital exclusion, and war refugees. So far, nearly 60 domestic abuse charities have received 10,000 SIMs via the programme.

New research shows how domestic violence and abuse affects UK workplace

KPMG study for Vodafone suggests more than half a million working women in the UK have experienced domestic violence and abuse in the past 12 months

Charities tell us this connectivity can make an enormous difference to the welfare of victims – being connected is vital to access support services and stay in touch with friends and family.

If you are a UK-registered charity or know someone in the sector who would benefit, please encourage them to apply for free connectivity here.

Bright Sky

Another way Vodafone has helped domestic abuse victims is through the Bright Sky app, launched in 2018. Developed by domestic abuse charity Hestia, Thames Valley Partnership, and Vodafone Foundation, it is a safe and easy-to-use app and website that provides practical support and information on spotting the signs of abuse and how to respond.

The app is available in five languages – English, Urdu, Punjabi, Polish and Welsh – and has been downloaded more than 100,000 times in the UK since its launch. Worryingly, during the pandemic lockdowns, we saw weekly downloads increase by 66%.

So, as we head into Christmas, here is a practical way you can help and support those affected: tell them about the free Bright Sky app and encourage them to download it to their phones and share with anyone who may need it.

It’s available on both iOS and Android devices via the App Store and Google Play Store.

Coercive control

Domestic abuse isn’t just about physical violence, however. Verbal abuse and controlling or bullying behaviour – so-called “coercive control” – can be just as corrosive to a person’s mental wellbeing.

Study finds millions may not recognise coercive control as Vodafone supports campaign to raise awareness

The research is part of the It’s Not Nothing campaign to raise awareness and provide support to anyone affected.

Vodafone Foundation’s powerful ‘It’s Not Nothing’ campaign aims to raise awareness of this kid of abuse and help people recognise the signs. The campaign directs people to the Bright Sky app and website as a source of help and support.

Supporting employees

Of course, as an employer, Vodafone also has a responsibility to protect its employees, which is why we have a global domestic abuse policy. One of the first of its kind, it provides specialist support for employees affected by abuse, including counselling and 10 days of additional paid leave if needed.

And Vodafone’s toolkit on domestic abuse includes guidance for managers on remote working and how to spot signs of potential abuse, and how to provide support to anyone impacted.

When it comes to domestic abuse we all have a responsibility to report it and support those who may be victims of this insidious crime. Simply standing by is no longer an option.


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