While the fear of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise, there is fear that cases of domestic violence will also be on the rise. While residents of Oklahoma are being asked or issued to practice social distancing and remain within their homes, which is crucial in reducing the spread of COVID-19, this could also strike fear in many vulnerable individuals. Senator Amy Klobuchar and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence spoke about these elevated risks during a public conference call this week. “Think about what we say to victims when they call and ask for help on the hotline. We say, ‘leave the house, leave the house.’ And the opposite message—for good public health reasons—is being conveyed right now,” said Senator Klobuchar. Now is the time to be mindful of potential risk factors that increase the likelihood of domestic violence occurring, how to reduce risk factors, or ultimately how to get help and know your community resources.
It is well known that as emotional or life stressors increase, the likelihood of negative outcomes may increase as well, such as domestic violence related situations. Stressors such as food insecurity, lack of childcare, church and school closures, job loss, the inability to seek face-to-face care in some businesses- especially in rural areas, and lack of community interactions combined with isolation within the home for long periods of time can increase the risk to victims of domestic violence.
But the most important message for anyone reading this is..YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS. It is important to not let hopelessness take over during this time. There are resources within the community and people that are here to help. Now is the time to become creative and think outside of the box if you are with your family within the home. When safety planning with an individual a large focus is placed on harm reduction.
So how do we cope during these times? We focus on the here and now. We focus on how to change our daily routines during these changing times. Examples of this could be taking breaks from schoolwork, serious conversations, or during a stressful moment and refocus on something else, such as spending time outside meditating, taking a walk, playing silly games with your children such as tag. Now is the time to focus on healthier ways to take care of ourselves, which can be as simple as taking a shower, having a meal, writing our feelings or thoughts.
But when all else fails, there are resources and teams that are available to provide emergency relief. Domestic violence victims are used to adapting to new situations to rebuild their lives. You have not been forgotten and we are here to help.