WATCH: Short film depicts the unsettling reality of domestic abuse during lockdown
"Can we trust the surface of things?"
A new short film from domestic abuse charity Refuge is hoping to highlight the fear and isolation felt by many women living with violent partners during the coronavirus pandemic.
Starring awarding-winning actor Maxine Peake and TV and stage actor Lex Shrapnel, Surfaces is an 11-minute story filmed entirely over a real conference call.
As powerful as it is thought-provoking, the film depicts how those dealing with domestic violence in lockdown often face far more isolation and fear on a daily basis.
Refuge, like many domestic abuse charities, has experienced a surge in contact since lockdown, with calls to their 24 hour helpline increasing by a considerable 66 percent.
The short film begins with Peake's character telling her partner that she has left him. He demands to know where she is, but she refuses to tell, instead informing him that she isn't coming back.
During the narrative, Peake recounts the physical and emotional violence her character experienced at the hands of her husband. Detailing the coercion and fear felt every day, ironically it is the lockdown itself that provides her with an escape - a chance to go to a women's refuge, seek support, and finally begin her live away from violence.
The film, while deeply unsettling in parts, is ultimately a story of hope; one where a woman who once felt powerless found a means of freedom during what should have been one of the most isolating experiences of her life.
“Refuge’s short film, Surfaces, comes at a critical time for the many sadly experiencing domestic violence during lockdown," says Peake.
"It’s an unnerving watch, but I hope that the issues brought up in the emotive film not only raise awareness of the frightening reality facing those that live with a perpetrator, but also help them to realise that they aren’t alone."
Shrapnel, added: “The number of people subjected to domestic violence is shocking and heart breaking, and has increased substantially during lockdown.
"I hope the film raises awareness of this remarkable charity which offers a lifeline to those who are suffering."
Although Refuge is a UK based domestic violence charity, there are of course services available here in Ireland for those in need of support.
Women's Aid has also experienced an increase in calls since the Covid-19 pandemic began, making their services and support more vital than ever.
If you have been affected by any of the details in this article, you can contact Women’s Aid's 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900, or if you are living in Northern Ireland you can contact Refuge on 0808 2000 247
You can watch Surfaces in full here: