Is he using the virus to control you?
Is he using the virus to control you?
When discussing the massive reductions in admissions to casualty departments currently, a doctor in one hospital mentioned that despite this, he had noticed a significant rise in admission linked to alcohol consumption, domestic abuse and suicide attempts. All three reasons rather more shocking and sinister than the usual fall from a ladder or road traffic accident. For many people, coronavirus is wrecking lives in ways beyond the damage caused by the virus itself. The social fallout from this pandemic will devastate many families, cause worsening of mental health and lead to untold suffering of women and children living in domestically abusive households.
When lockdown closes the door on abused women, the chances they will experience additional abuse is significant. Men who abuse women will use any excuse to continue their abuse, including a global health concern like coronavirus. We are now seeing how this pandemic is used by some as an additional tool to control their partners. The following patterns of abuse are becoming more common –
- Withhold necessary items like hand soap, hand sanitisers, and disinfectants
- Share misinformation about the coronavirus to scare or control their partners
- Feel more justified in increasing their isolation tactics
- Use coronavirus as a scare tactic so that their partners will not visit family members even after lockdown
- Prevent their partners from getting medical attention even if they have symptoms
- Threaten to infect them with the virus if they themselves have symptoms
- Accuse their partner of trying to give them the virus, especially if their partner is an essential employee or healthcare worker
- Prevent their partner from going to work—even if they are a healthcare worker
- Financial abuse including withholding money and food
- Prevent them from getting medical care or prescriptions for existing conditions
- Abuse alcohol and drugs as a way of coping with stress
- Escalate abuse due to financial strain and emotional stress caused by the pandemic
- Blame and ridicule their partner every time something goes wrong
- Use coronavirus as an excuse to keep their partners from seeing the kids if they’re separated
- Refuse to help with home teaching / refuse to allow home teaching
- Create strict and controlling rules about behaviour at home, yet find fault even if rules are followed
- Engage in additional emotional abuse and gaslighting behaviours
It is normal for anyone to feel fear and anxiety during these uncertain times. For women being domestically abused, the current pandemic will just add to their torment. Despite some options being limited due to the current crisis, there are still things that can be done to keep abused women and their children physically and emotionally safer, even during lockdown.
Create a safety plan – Safety plans are personalised plans that include ideas on how to stay safe while in an abusive relationship. For more details see our safety planning blog on BWP website.
Stay in touch and talk – If at all possible, you should try to stay in touch with family and friends. Use text messaging, FaceTime, social media, email, or other online options to communicate when you can. It’s important to build a support network of people who can encourage and support you. Be careful what you share though in case the person abusing you is monitoring your online activity or abusing you electronically.
Practice self-care – Getting through this pandemic while experiencing abuse can seem overwhelming, so practising self-care which means taking deliberate actions to enhance your physical, emotional, and mental health is even more important. See the self-care blog on BWP website for more information.
Be prepared to ask for help – If you’re not safe, your children aren’t safe, you’re not coping or your situation is deteriorating, professional help is still available and you might need to ask for help. Always consider dialling 999 in an emergency. Also know there is other professional support available to you. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline can be accessed at all times – 0808 2000 247.
We are always looking to raise awareness of useful tools on the market to help support survivors of abuse. You might want to look at the Bright Sky app. Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app, launched in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, providing support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know. The Bright Sky app includes the following features –
- Available in 4 languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi and Polish
- A unique UK-wide directory of specialist domestic abuse support services with contact details.
- A secure My Journal tool to record incidents of abuse via text, audio, video or photo form, without any of the content being saved on the device itself.
- Questionnaires to assess the safety of a relationship, plus a section on dispelling myths around domestic and sexual abuse.
- Links to further resources and information on topics around domestic abuse.
Broxtowe Women’s Project are also supporting those affected by domestic abuse in Nottinghamshire. If you are experiencing domestic abuse or are affected by past domestic abuse, we are here to help you. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our mobile support line – 07914 634190.
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