I want to start by saying that when i use the term “domestic abuse” I am not just referring to male to female abuse. I am talking female to male, sibling to sibling, child to parent and every other abuse that takes place under the family roof.
On Monday 23rd March 2020 the UK Prime Minister announced that we are on lockdown, although Boris was very careful not to use that word. Essentially meaning that we are to stay home unless in exceptional circumstances.
Obviously that in itself is scary enough but for many adults and children there is another layer to this.
Domestic abuse at the hands of their family.
9 Reasons Why Domestic Abuse Will Rise During Lockdown
Abusive people love to isolate their victims. They do it covertly and usually over time to avoid suspicion. But they don’t need to be covert or slow anymore. They have effectively been given permission to isolate their victims (not a criticism of lockdown as I do believe it is necessary) and no-one will see it for what it really is. It will be swept under the carpet with “social isolation”. Added to that, is the reality that getting out will now be almost impossible. There’s nowhere to go.
Financial and service restrictions
With jobs being lost and income restricted, there isn’t the money to escape. The services which may have supported you in finding shelter and/or accommodation will be limited as well. You can’t go and stay with relatives due to the risk involved either.
The financial restrictions will increase stress levels in the house as well. Money is already one of the leading reasons for arguments in relationships and losing a job is seen as a crisis. It is creating a pressure pot for families who now have no way of getting out and letting off steam.
No escape routes
With most service industries being closed now (shows, pubs and restaurants) there is no outlet for time away or fun. Bundling the kids in the car to take them to the park or seaside is off limits as well. Every aspect of life is happening in four walls. It’s like Big Brother but on steroids!
Lack of purpose
We are all better, happier and more balanced people when we have a purpose in our life and for a lot of people that is a job or being a parent. With few people being able to go to work now this can lead to depression as well as anxiety over what happens next. Negative emotions can spiral and it’s easy to take things out on those closest to you.
As a parent when your kids were at school, you got on with stuff. Did the housework, saw friends, worked on your business. But now they are around 24/7 and you have way less time to do “your” stuff and that can be really frustrating. Add to that having to keep them entertained and meltdowns are inevitable.
Children are stressful
Even the best children can test the patience of a saint at times and so sending them off to school or nursery gives parents the break they need. Not any more. You get to see them in all their glory and it’s not easy. Giving children attention for long periods of time is also exhausting.
You will also see the difference in parenting styles between you and your partner which can cause arguments. We all have our own way of doing things and even when we work as a team, we don’t always agree on everything. That’s normal and natural and actually one of the strengths of most couples. But those differences, in a microsystem like lockdown can become enormous chasms of difference and the arguments can easily get out of hand if they are happening regularly.
Abusive people will use this situation to control who gets access to their victims and who doesn’t. They will interrupt calls, refuse to allow visits to drop off supplies for family members (under the guise of safety of course) and use this as an excuse not to return children after contact (against the advice of the government who state handovers are still permitted). Again this can cause arguments but also creates a new kind of “normal” which can become the precedent for how your household functions.
Awakening versus compliance
During this period of lockdown, people will fall into two categories: those who realise what is going on and see the abuse for what it is (awaken) and those who comply.
Those who awaken will find it really uncomfortable and perhaps attempt to fight back, refusing to comply. Those who comply are effectively accepting the behaviours and making it their “norm”. Sadly both are dangerous.
Many parents will refuse to adhere to the lockdown and will continue to go about their daily business which can, with the closure of schools, lead to many children being left to fend for themselves and care for their siblings. With services at a stretch, children may be left alone and in dangerous situations for the duration with no-one to check on them. I have known of young children who have attempted to cook chips in a deep fat fryer for their younger siblings whilst their parents were out at work. Doing that every day for 3 weeks is an accident waiting to happen.
It is important to note that even people who are not abusive will struggle through this period because it is so abnormal and scary. It has the potential to bring out the worst in us. If you find your family is struggling, do try to reach out to the online services listed below.
I sadly don’t have the answers as this has never happened before but my advice to everyone is try to stay positive. Make little “Peace zones” in your house where possible where people can go for 5 minute peace and quiet if needed. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be a teacher either. Be their parents and enjoy the time with them. That’s what they really need right now.
If you are in danger, support services will still be able to offer support so do use the numbers below.
And most of all, take care and be safe everyone.
Useful contact numbers:
Facebook Group Family Lockdown Tips and Ideas https://www.facebook.com/groups/871176893326326/
Samaritans 116 123
Support for women and children https://www.womensaid.org.uk/
Support for men https://www.mankind.org.uk/
Our own 14 Day Social Distancing Survival Kit https://mailchi.mp/thenurturingcoach.co.uk/survival-kit