As we continue to deal through the impact of the ongoing pandemic, we experience different layers of anxieties surface up. All of us are feeling a sense of helplessness and loss of control over our lives. We as humans strive for certainty and at such times we are forced to sit through a sense of helplessness to regain normalcy.
The pandemic has particularly raised concerns and increased occurrences of Domestic Violence.
Domestic violence is rooted in the idea of seeking power and control. People who are verbally and physically abusive are currently experiencing a lack of control in the midst of situational stressors. They may find themselves looking to regain control on factors where they can offer dominance; with their partners being the most at risk.
“People are experiencing greater distress and irritability because of outside events. Add diminished social interaction, and that can maximize the degree of control of the perpetrator.” says Anthony Castro, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist with the University of Miami Health System.
Here are a few tips in which individuals may find their abusive partners expressing their control during a Pandemic. We will also be sharing tips for victims of Domestic Violence to cope with these behaviors of abuse.
5 Ways in which an abusive individual may impose control in the midst of the pandemic:
- Withholding items: Abusive partners may try to withhold items like face masks, hand soaps and sanitizers to instill fear on their partners and prevent them from going out.
- They may share mis-information around Covid-19 and dominate their partners in sharing their own beliefs around the pandemic.
- Restrict their partners from talking to friends and family members
- Engage in Alcohol or Drug use as they continue to spend longer periods of time at home. Individuals might be at higher risk of causing harm when they are intoxicated or using drugs.
- Abusive partners may also find themselves leading towards more gaslighting behaviors such as dismissing their partner’s concerns around covid-19.
Ways in which survivors of Domestic violence could cope:
- Create a safety plan: This may seem like a drastic first step but is required to keep yourself safe and regain control. Access as interactive guide to safety planning: https://www.loveisrespect.org/get-help/interactive-safety-plan/
- Seek support: During such times, you may feel like you don’t want to burden others because everyone is going through something. But such caring support is necessary to vent out your stress and create a calm atmosphere to think through difficult situations. Reach out to Domestic Violence Helpline: https://www.thehotline.org/. There are confidential resources where you can also continue your anonymity. You can seek professional help once you are able to secure a safe space to speak to a Mental Health Professional. Sometimes you may not be able to find that space or a few abusers may be involved in your conversations with others. Finding a safe word to share with your professional help can keep things safe.
- Create small achievable goals: This may be in the forms of a local helpline resource or understand the laws around Domestic violence. Educating yourself and taking step-by -step approach will prevent you from pushing yourself and instead, compassionately help you consider these options when you feel ready
- When there is physical abuse, it is also important to identify areas in your house which feel safer and have no harmful objects around.
- When there are children in the house, trying to not run towards the child is beneficial because the partner may hurt them. Even if they have not harmed their children, it is important to consider that their behaviors could be unpredictable.
- If you feel like abuse is absolutely inevitable, probably finding or even practicing a body pose that would create as minimal harm as possible. Finding people you trust or seeking help from a professional can help reflect on your options in the midst of an abusive situation.
- Dedicating a peaceful space for yourself in the house where you can relax your mind and feel safe. This can be an option when difficult situations arise; looking for ways to ground yourself can create space in your mind to think of solutions. This can be a room in your house, a chair by the window or even a bathroom.
Throughout this process, it is important to accept your emotions as they arise because they are valid. It can also help to pass a gentle reminder that it is never your fault when someone chooses to be abusive to you and it has no reflection on the great value you have as an individual. Taking a few breaks to step back from the focus of your situation can help you to revisit ways to find a solution and empower yourself.
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