Tired of hearing about the corona virus and all the options we need to adjust? Yes me too. But the reality is that this is a really stressful time and no one knows when it will end. The time of “not knowing” is often the most difficult part. Prolonged stress can cause the worst in all of us. I see families that can work well in normal situations and collapse under this weight. Words are shouted that should never have been said. Fights escalate to push and push. Children hear and see things that they will remember long after the virus disappears. If this happens in your home, you should be proactive to avoid further damage.
We all need to learn new coping skills, and I want to help you with that. I face the challenge with online interviews with experts and also offer online groups so that we can support each other and receive support. Don’t be ashamed if your family sometimes loses it. This is not the time to hide. You (or you and your spouse) can start online counseling with us this week. Get in touch and get the support you need.
Domestic abuse in times of crisis
For some of you, the impact of the coronavirus only complicates an already complicated situation. You have lived in an unsafe environment and it has nothing to do with the pandemic. My heart really goes to you. Your difficult situation has become even more frightening because an abusive spouse who is quarantined at home can hardly escape. Self-isolation forces victims of domestic violence and their children into potentially dangerous situations – “protection on site” for their abusers. In combination with the additional fear of unemployment, illness and death, the perpetrator can use this already stressful situation to gain even more control.
In such a time of crisis, the risk of domestic violence increases. “We know that domestic violence is rooted in power and control,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “Right now we all feel a lack of control over our lives, and a person who can’t do it will take it from their victim.”
The impact on the survivors
Here are some of the specific ways the COVID-19 epidemic could affect victims of domestic violence:
- Fear of exposure to the virus can affect the survivor’s willingness to seek help or treatment.
- The perpetrator can use the virus as a horror strategy to keep the survivor away from the children or to visit supportive family members.
- Social ties are temporarily broken. Allies outside the home who have noticed or reported the abuse no longer see them every day.
- The abusive partner can deny access to household disinfectants and soaps to create fear. or withhold insurance information to prevent the survivor from seeking medical treatment.
- Travel restrictions can affect your ability to execute your security plan.
- Accommodation, advice centers and other support organizations may have limited services. If you go to such places, the survivor is at increased risk of being exposed to the virus.
- Loss of income or recent unemployment can make the victim financially more dependent on the perpetrator and therefore make it more difficult to leave the abusive situation.
If you or someone you know is living with a perpetrator, here are some suggestions for what the survivor can do during this time.
Create a security plan
A security plan is your personal plan, which includes ways you can protect yourself while in an abusive relationship, plan to leave an abusive relationship, or after you leave one. A good security plan includes not only your physical security, but also ways to manage your emotions, maintain communication with friends and family, and protect yourself legally.
It is important to remember that your brain may not function as logically under extreme stress as in quieter times. Therefore, it is critical to have a plan in advance and ask for help from supportive friends, family members and resources for domestic violence.
While it is important for us to stay at home, feelings of isolation from friends and family are also a real problem and can affect our mental health. Taking time for your own health and wellbeing can make a big difference in how you feel.
If you can do this safely, try to stick to your daily routines as much as possible. Maintain (or increase) your physical activity by taking frequent walks or bike rides and maintaining social connections with friends and family online or by phone. If you have children, these recommendations also apply to them. Encourage them to be active outdoors while continuing to distance themselves socially and help them stay connected with their friends through online methods.
If you are a friend or family member of someone in an abusive relationship, you may not be able to physically verify them during that time. However, you can still encourage them by calling or texting and reminding them to practice self-care while you are stuck at home.
Ask for help
If you are reading this and living in an abusive situation, I want you to know that you are not alone. Your perpetrator wants you to believe that you are, but that’s a lie to control you. If you are in an insecure life situation, do not let the lies catch you. You can call the national hotline for domestic violence at 1−800−799−7233 (SAFE) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. If you are unable to speak safely, you can send LOVEIS to 22522 or register thehotline.org
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