As I write this blog, I am working remotely as are all the staff at ICADV. We are certainly in unprecedented times. The best advice we are all receiving right now is to stay put in our homes as much as possible and only interact with others from at least six feet away and only for “essential” reasons.
While this is really good advice for most of us so that we can try to slow the spread of this virus, staying at home is not the safest option for many of our Illinois families. Where domestic violence is occurring, this may be a direct contradiction for the safety of victims of domestic violence and their dependents. So what to do?
Isolation is a handy tool and is often used often by people who choose to harm their loved ones. Limits to who a victim can see or talk to, no shopping or outside appointments without the abuser accompanying, constant calls and texts when one or both are at work are just a few examples of the regular techniques employed to maintain control.
Stress doesn’t cause someone to become abusive. However, in times of heightened stress like we are in now, it is very possible that incidents of domestic violence will increase. We know based on wide spread natural disasters that have occurred ever since the floods of 1993, that displacement and anxiety will add to the reasons that people choose to use abuse.
So in these times of “social distancing”, how does a person get help when they may be afraid to stay in their home? If at all possible, it is important to call the local domestic violence hotline to talk to a trained advocate to help design a plan for safety. When you are encouraged to check on others are you trying to touch base with that co-worker that you think may be a victim of emotional or physical abuse? If you can call that niece that you are worried about, can you ask questions to check on her safety that will allow her to answer in a safe way? Are you able to FaceTime with your grandchildren to allow for even a few minutes of respite or to make sure they have what they need?
During this time of increased separateness, we all have to find ways to continue to support domestic violence victims. This link will allow you to find services closest to where you are or where a victim you know can access assistance. You can call a hotline and get information to help you help someone else. Shelter may be something that is needed but it isn’t the only way to help. Call and find out what you can do.