The Impacts of COVID-19 on Domestic Violence
Fall is in the air…cool mornings and back-to-school buzz are all around us. Soon we will be surrounded by colorful fall foliage and pumpkin flavored treats. However, this autumn is unlike any other. Masks are required for back-to-school shopping. Many school athletic seasons have been cancelled. Victims and survivors of crime continue to live in uncertainty.
During this unprecedented time of social distancing, working remotely, distance learning, and increased stress and isolation, many individuals and families are experiencing greater risks to their safety when at home. While masks and social distancing can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, for many, isolation at home is not the safest option. When victims and survivors are forced to stay at home with their abuser for with increased periods of time without the ability to reach out for help, it poses a greater threat to their safety.
Abusers may take advantage of the increased isolation and stress to gain additional power and control over their partner, by:
- Using fear of the virus to control or manipulate a survivor;
- Withholding disinfectants, hand sanitizer, hand soap or other essentials needed to help protect survivors and their families;
- Increasing physical, psychological and sexual abuse due to the increased proximity;
- Preventing survivors from seeking medical attention if they have symptoms of COVID-19;
- Restricting travel;
- Preventing survivors and children from contacting anyone outside the home; and,
- Limiting phone and internet usage.
While the COVID-19 Pandemic is certainly causing uncertainty for most, victims and survivors are particularly impacted. Survivors might not be able to seek help, as abusers may more frequently be in the same household due to layoffs, shutdowns, and closings.
If you are isolated, try to maintain connections with the outside world the best you can over the phone or online. Try to stick to your daily routines as much as possible. Plan for your safety the best you can and reach out for help if you are safely able to do so. If you or someone you know has been victimized by crime or abuse, please contact Someplace Safe. Our services have remained available throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic and are available via video calls and telephone, as well as in-person services (appointments are suggested). Accessible services are also available, including; interpreters, live website chat, and text message. Call 1.800.974.3359 or visit our website at www.someplacesafe.info for more information.
Minnesota’s mandate which requires that masks be worn is intended to keep individuals safe. But for some, wearing a mask or being around others makes wearing a mask, feels like anything but safe. Masks have triggered trauma in some survivors. There are also survivors of violence and abuse who have fears of being restricted. For others, the smell and feel of the fabric, breathing in hot air, experiencing the sense of someone hiding their face, or the lack of social cues (via facial expressions) can trigger trauma.
The mask mandate may be here for a little a while longer but that doesn’t mean survivors and those who support survivors can’t help to ease the hardship of this silent burden. Although every survivor is different and have had different experiences that can make trauma resurface, knowledge and compassion can go a long way to help survivors cope with wearing masks. You may feel strongly that everyone should wear masks, but understand you don’t know the reason some people are reluctant to have their face covered. Be kind and avoid attacking strangers who are not wearing masks.
If you are experiencing anxiety or fear from masks:
- Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed and remember you don’t have to go through it alone, it’s not your fault. Be kind to yourself. Talk to a therapist, trusted friend or contact an advocate at Someplace Safe to talk about your anxiety.
- Consider using some essential oil or favorite perfume with a calming scent inside your mask.
- Consider making your mask your own, decorate it yourself or choose one with a design that you like. Try writing a powerful or empowering quote on the inside that only you can see.
- Practice wearing a mask at home or in another safe place.
- Try relaxation techniques such as taking deep breaths or listening to inspiring music on headphones.
- Use good self-care skills. Remember healing doesn’t happen overnight but rather is a process, don’t get down on yourself but instead celebrate your strength.
- Ask your advocate for a face shield if this may make you more comfortable.For more information visit: www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_effects_ptsd.asp.
Share this page