Today I bring your awareness to yet another incredible anxiety that Covid-19 brings to too many women – and children. And that is “Intimate Terrorism”, also known as “domestic violence” and “gender-based violence”.
I share this information with you… you who may have been enduring intimate terrorism before lockdown and you, who may suddenly have your regular conflicts escalate into what would be defined as abuse.
I also share this information with you, you who is a supporter of a friend or family member who depended on you in the past to be there for her. And you who, through regular lockdown online interactions, is aware that right now your friend/family member, maybe experiencing intimate terrorism.
Covid-19 necessary lockdown is the perfect storm in which intimate terrorism thrives. Generally, intimate terrorism increases whenever families spend more time together such as Easter, Christmas, family holidays. It also increases when there is economic hardship… and alcohol is a huge driver to this form of violence in the home.
Now is an opportunity for abusers to terrorize their victims — and what is notable is that the abuse during Covid-19 is more frequent, more severe and more dangerous.
Did the government think about this? Did they prepare shelters and added support online for these women and children? A big resounding NO.
This is where you can make a difference.
Here are some facts to help you understand the unique nature of intimate terrorism during Covid-19.
Armed with this information, I hope you will be more vigilant in listening to your friends/family who you know were at risk before the lockdown and to the subtle nuanced words of women who may suddenly be suffering abuse in their intimate relationships.
FACTS ABOUT COVID-19 and INTIMATE TERRORISM
- Abuse is about power, and many abusers are using the pandemic to control in new ways.
- Confined space increases risk
- Total surveillance is now possible by the abuser
- No privacy allowed – not even bathroom visits
- Common tools of abuse include isolation from friends, family and employment; constant surveillance; strict, detailed rules for behaviour and restrictions on access to such basic necessities as food, clothing and sanitary facilities.
- Under lockdown abuser has more power to exert these tools
- Unique tools include preventing partners from going to work at essential jobs or from accessing safety measures, including basics like soap and hand sanitizer.
- Increase in threat to use firearms
- Survivors in lockdown are more isolated, their abusive partners are under more stress, and the options for escape have become more limited amid the outbreak.
- Shatters support systems for survivors so it is more difficult to get help – or escape
- As a survivor, you are already isolated, with limited access to financial resources and social networks. With lockdown it can feel even more challenging to find and receive the support you need
- Intimate terrorism will further increase due to job losses and economic pressures
Question: do you leave in the middle of this pandemic or do you stay at home?
- Leaving an abusive relationship usually takes many months, even years. All these difficulties are now exacerbated: courts are closed, no shelters open.
TIPS TO SUPPORT AN ABUSED PERSON DURING LOCKDOWN
- Daily check-in with friend/family that you know may be in unsafe relationships
- Together arrange a set daily check-in time – and be reliable
- Have a code word that can be used if help is needed
- If possible, have visual online check-ins with a survivor so you’re able to see any signs of abuse.
- Be careful not to place her at further risk so text messages may be the only possible form of communication- and this may not even be safe.
- Merely sending a text every day can be a life-saver – just letting her know you are there.
- Provide her with a help-line support number. Tell her to put into her contacts immediately.
THIS IS WHAT I AM LISTENING TO:
A beautiful rendition of the song “Mad World”, sung here by Curt Smith and his daughter