The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an upsurge in domestic abuse/violence. Where partners and families are spending more time together at home it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the cycle of abuse. Not surprisingly, being in such close proximity for extended periods of time has resulted in higher instances of abuse. This raises concern: when people in the same household intimidate or physically hurt one another?
Is coronavirus causing more domestic violence?
If domestic abuse is already a problem in a relationship, the coronavirus pandemic is making it worse. An abusive person may use this situation to exert more control over a partner.
What makes physical abuse more of a risk during coronavirus?
Even with on-line sales lifting and shops reopening, there is still an increase in stressors as a result of the pandemic. Families may feel crowded, frustrated that they can’t escape the abuse. At the same time, they’re isolated from extended family and friends and can no longer participate in many activities which in many cases was their only normality and the reprieve that helped them to cope with the abuse.
PTSD: A Risk Factor in Domestic Abuse
Individuals who are experiencing domestic abuse or, those who are exposed to growing up in a family where there is any form of domestic abuse will more than likely display symptom of PTSD due to living in an atmosphere of hypervigilance. The potential effect of this on people living in abuse is exasperated by the Covid-19 restrictions because there is no reprieve form the hypervigilance and constant anxiety state now that the abuser is present in the home full time and in so many cases they are now working from home most of the time.
Clients report how they are restricted in their movement within the home; even to the point of not being able to speak. Even trying to keep little children quiet is an impossible task that leads to explosive onslaughts of anger, verbal and physical abuse.
There’s not always one, horrific event, which causes PTSD symptoms; a lifetime of exposure to abuse/violent behaviour can add up.
What should I do to protect myself from domestic violence during the pandemic?
- Look Out for Warning Signs. Put a plan together if someone you are living with is:
- Being verbally or emotionally hurtful.
- Threatening you.
- Having episodes of explosive anger.
- Harming animals.
Steps You Can Take to Keep Yourself and Others Safe
- Find a place you can retreat to safely. Avoid the bathroom or kitchen.
- Enlist support from a trusted friend or family member you can call.
- If necessary, use a code word or phrase to indicate you need help.
- Memories phone numbers of people and agencies you might need to call in an emergency.
- Make sure you can easily access: cash, identification (passport and driver’s license), birth and marriage certificates, credit cards and bank information.