There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult on everyone. With lockdown and quarantine restrictions in place, many people have spent more time at home over the last year than ever. But, for victims of domestic abuse and people dealing with intimate partner violence (IPV), lockdown can truly seem like living in a personal prison.
Unfortunately, studies have shown an increase in domestic violence throughout the pandemic. On average, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience IPV. During this pandemic, however, it has been estimated that domestic abuse cases have risen significantly, causing an increase in physical injuries and emotional/mental wellbeing for thousands.
There’s no question that stress levels and tensions are already high when you’re “stuck” in your home. But, if you’re worried about IPV on top of the everyday stress of life, you’re not alone. And, you don’t have to continue living that way.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can deal with domestic abuse during the lockdown so you can find safety and peace as soon as possible.
Learning to Cope With Your Situation
You should never stay in a situation where you aren’t physically or emotionally safe. But, it’s often easier said than done to simply walk away or leave especially during a pandemic. Maybe you depend on your partner, financially. Or, maybe you don’t have anywhere else to go right now. While there are resources available that can help, there are also actions you can take to keep yourself safe in the moment, including:
- Developing a safety plan for extreme situations.
- Creating physical distance between you and your partner if they get violent.
- Having a “code word” for your children, family, or friends, so they know when to call for help.
- Having a temporary place to go if you need to leave your home.
It’s also important to understand that you may not be the only one dealing with the effects of abuse. If you have children in the home, they are undoubtedly seeing and hearing everything. Depending on their age, their emotions might range from fearful to confused. Unfortunately, children who experience domestic or even witness violence are often at a greater risk of long-term mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
Keeping your kids away from harm should always be a top priority. So, if you know they’re witnessing violence or abuse, or your partner has started to take things out on them, remove them from the situation immediately.
Reaching Out for Help
You might think that you have nowhere to turn, but that is rarely the case. The most important thing is to find a safe place to stay. If you explain your situation to a family member or friend, someone will undoubtedly be willing to help you, even on a temporary basis.
What you need to focus on for the long-term, however, is your health – mental and physical.
If there is one positive thing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the rise in telehealth. Many physicians and mental health professionals have started using telehealth as a way to connect with patients while remaining socially-distanced and safe. But, in its rise in popularity, telehealth has brought several additional benefits with it, including:
- Increased accessibility
If you’re not in a position that allows you to go see a doctor or therapist, you can connect with one from your own home or anywhere else you might feel safe. It’s a wonderful way to be able to get medical advice if you’ve been physically abused or to work through the mental health issues that can so easily occur in a domestic abuse situation. Working with a medical professional will let you know someone is on your side, you’re not alone, and help is available.
Finding More Self-Awareness
It’s a long-standing problem for victims of abuse to take the blame. You might think you’re doing something wrong, or that you could be doing something different to keep your abuser from lashing out.
That is never the case. No matter what you do, it is never okay for someone to lay a hand on you or emotionally abuse you in any way. But, if you’re having trouble leaving the situation, consider the stress it’s causing on you every day. You can reduce your stress levels and become more self-aware through activities like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Improving your self-awareness can help you to realize who you are and what you deserve.
These uncertain times and periods of lockdown have been difficult, to say the least. But, they don’t have to be dangerous.
Keep these ideas in mind if you’re dealing with an IPV in your relationship. If your health and safety are at risk, get out as soon as possible, and use these suggestions to find a long-term solution.
How else can I support survivors?|
If helping survivors of abuse back on their feet is something you’re passionate about, petition your senators to sign the Violence Against Women Act
Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.