Andrea Williams guest posts today on the topic of domestic violence in COVID-19 lockdown, with the goal to provide help victims and those who know someone who is suffering at home. Let’s give her the floor.
What’s happening: Domestic violence in COVID-19 lockdown
The global COVID-19 pandemic has introduced us to the idea of lockdowns meant to slow the disease down. Although coronavirus infections and deaths remain high, lockdowns have, indeed, slowed down the spread of the virus and saved lives, according to a couple of studies.
These lockdowns, however, have also contributed to the global rise in domestic violence cases. Victims and their abusive partners are trapped under one roof, and that constant proximity to each other is bound to lead to acts of domestic violence.
Under normal circumstances, victims of abuse can readily reach out to family, friends, and an experienced domestic violence attorney for help. COVID-19 lockdowns, however, can make it harder for them to do so.
If you are in this difficult situation, what can you do to protect yourself from domestic violence in the middle of a COVID-19 lockdown?
Recognize the signs of domestic violence in COVID-19 lockdown
Most people associate domestic violence with physical abuse, but the former comes in a variety of forms.
Even without the bruises and cuts that come with physical abuse, it’s still considered domestic violence when the person is experiencing the following:
- Psychological abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Spiritual abuse
In the time of the pandemic, it’s already domestic violence via psychological abuse when your partner keeps you from visiting family by using COVID-19 as a scare tactic. The same goes for using all sorts of COVID-19 misinformation just to control you.
You are also emotionally abused when your partner blames you if he ever contracts coronavirus.
Contrary to what some people might believe, sexual abuse can happen even in a marriage. Forcing spouses to have sex—despite the danger of contracting or transmitting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19—is a clear indicator of sexual abuse.
Financial abuse would be withholding money, credit cards, food, and essentials in the fight against the coronavirus such as hand soap, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, face masks, and face shields.
By recognizing the signs of domestic violence, you will know that you are a victim who needs help and that it’s time to come around and make plans to protect yourself.
Create a personalized safety plan
Once you recognize that you’re in an abusive relationship, create a safety plan right away, as recommended by the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Your safety plan may include teaching your kids, if any, how to contact authorities in case your partner commits yet another act of domestic violence. A plan on how to keep yourself and your children safe is also a must.
You can also put in your safety plan the details of your exit strategy should you decide to leave. List down the safest and fastest ways to get out of the house, too.
If you have a designated place to go, make sure the people receiving you are ready for when that day comes. There is support for victims of domestic violence in COVID-19, including you.
It’s also important to prepare what is called a go-bag or a bug-out bag. All essentials—extra car key, purse, credit card, spare clothes, and water to drink, among other things—should be in it at all times. When it’s time to go, all you have to do is grab that bag and leave without delay.
Practice self-care if you can’t leave
There’s no better way to deal with domestic violence than to leave and file charges against your abusive partner. Leaving the marriage is in your best mental health and safety.
However, you may decide against leaving for reasons known only to you. In this situation, you should at least pay more attention to your physical, emotional, and mental health by practicing self-care.
Regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, practicing yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises can all be helpful. Find other mental health tips during lockdown here.
To victims of domestic violence in COVID-19 lockdown: Don’t hesitate to seek help
If you find yourself injured, don’t hesitate to get medical care. If you’re afraid of contracting COVID-19, trust that medical personnel will take all preventive measures to reduce risks.
Should you finally decide to leave, reach out to your loved ones and to the authorities. Phones will do, but it’s still best if you have access to other communication platforms like email and social media. Make sure that your abusive partner is not spying on your online activity to stay safe.
It would also be great if you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Trained advocates will be there to talk to you. They will advise you on what to do when your domestic situation worsens.
The lockdowns that marked the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened the situation of people suffering from domestic violence. Still, don’t let them stop you from seeking help, especially if the violence escalates.
Your local government may have services in place to help victims of domestic violence even in coronavirus times. So, find as much information about them as you can.
About today’s writer
Andrea Williams is the Community Manager at The Law Offices of Alcock & Associates P.C., a premier law group in Arizona that provides legal services to clients involved in Personal Injury, DUI, Immigration and Criminal cases. She enjoys cooking, reading books and playing mini golf with her friends and family in her spare time.