Emphasis is currently being placed on people to self-isolate from their places of work and leisure, posing the home as a place of relative safety during the coronavirus pandemic. However, there is growing concern about what impact this might have on those trapped in intimate relationships with people who use violence and abuse.
For some people, home is not a safe place to be, so the prospect of large parts of the population being confined to prevent the spread of the coronavirus opens the potential for increased incidents of domestic violence.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of a “horrifying global surge” in domestic violence during the coronavirus crisis and urged governments to step up efforts to prevent violence against women. Why only women though? Why not all people irrespective of gender? Violence and abuse is never ok. That applies equally whether the victim is a man or woman.
Figures suggest that as many as one in three victims of domestic violence are male, therefore it is important to ensure male victims are not left out from the anti-violence efforts.
Abuse of men happens in both heterosexual and same sex relationships. It happens to men from all cultures and all walks of life regardless of age or occupation. However, men are often reluctant to report abuse because they feel embarrassed, fear they won’t be believed, or are scared that their partner will take revenge.
Of course, domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence. Emotional and verbal abuse, blackmail, harassment, threats can be just as damaging.
Here are a few things to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Understand that stress and anxiety does not cause domestic abuse but it may increase it in families where it is already being perpetrated. Acknowledge that this is an extremely unsafe time.
- Check in with someone who you are personally worried about.
- If it is safe to talk when you call, arrange a codeword or phrase that the victim can use if interrupted, eg if you need to end the call at any point please say “no, sorry I’m not interested in taking part in the survey”.
- Where there is not a complete lockdown and people are still able to leave their houses to go for a walk if not ill or in quarantine, suggest they go for a walk as a “time out” technique to de-escalate the situation. If there is a complete lockdown then a garage or garden shed could also work.
- Suggest they get evidence of the abuse. Report all incidents of physical abuse to the police and get a copy of each police report. Keep a journal of all abuse with a clear record of dates, times, and any witnesses. Include a photographic record of your injuries and make sure your doctor or hospital also documents your injuries.
- Suggest they obtain advice from a domestic violence program or helpline available in your area.
And let’s stop making jokes about domestic violence and abuse like in that Russian video below called ‘In all houses in our country….” that depicts a woman abusing her partner for forgetting to wash the dishes, not watching the movie she wanted, not tidying up his clothes etc. a week after Putin’s call to the nation “Trust me, the safest place at the moment is at home” that appears at the end of the video.
Abuse is never fun no matter the victim’s gender!
- Global surge of domestic violence since coronavirus lockdowns
- Coronavirus lockdown is a dangerous time for victims of domestic abuse
- Covid 19 coronavirus: Domestic violence is the second, silent epidemic amid lockdown
- Help for Men Who Are Being Abused
- Men and Physical Abuse by Spouses or Girlfriends