The threat of the coronavirus pandemic has been consistently accelerating with an increase in the number of contamination cases and deaths. During such a challenging time, people from all around the world are encouraging each other to ‘Stay home in order to stay safe’. It is, however, imperative to understand whom this safety accounts for.
The duration of lockdowns in India have been extending for nearly three months and the number of cases of abuse and domestic violence too, have steadily increased. While many people have been stranded in different cities away from their loved ones, some unfortunately have to face the brunt of living together with their abuser for unprecedented amounts of time.
So, what is the effect that abuse has on mental health?
Victims of abuse are left scarred and often develop a high risk of depression, anxiety, chronic health diseases, various sexual disorders and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); the repercussions of which can be life threatening (Damania, 2020).
Of course, abuse can be psychological and emotional in nature too. These kinds of abuses completely shatter the self-concept of the victim, leaving them more vulnerable to. They tend to have a low esteem and feel helpless with regard to standing up to their abuser. While some bravely do so, the repercussions of the same might be devastating. They may experience more violent abuse that may cause them serious mental instability.
What can a victim of abuse do to seek help during lockdown?
While it can be challenging for the victims of abuse to seek help at such a challenging time, they must remember that they are strong and have bravely fought through abuse in the past.
There are certain ways victims can seek help:
Most importantly, the victim must keep a phone or any other means of communication handy in order to get in touch with the police. They must inform the police beforehand about their vulnerable situation and devise a way to update the them when they feel unsafe or violated.
If calling the police for help is not feasible, it is imperative that a victim of abuse develop a strong social system. They must contact those whom they trust most and confide in, and regularly update the latter about their situation. Designing a safe word can prove to be extremely useful in times of emergency. If needed, shouting this safe word or communicating it through call or text can immediately notify their loved ones.
Additionally, working on self-care and mindfulness can really help victims of abuse empower themselves and gain emotional stability. For this purpose, they can meditate or maintain a mindfulness journal that can help them express their bottled-up thoughts and emotions.
Lastly, if possible, the victim must try to seek professional help by getting in touch with a counsellor. This can be done via online sessions or phone calls. The counsellor can empower the client to make the right decisions and help them deal with the stress that the crime inflicts. Counsellors can also be used as an effective means of communication between the victims and their loved ones or in times of intimating the police.
While life in lockdown can get really challenging for victims of abuse, it is imperative that they don’t lose hope and seek help. Most importantly, if you come across or know of someone suffering domestic abuse, please reach out to them and update as many people as you can. Only then can people staying home, stay safe.
Damania, A. (2020, May 17). Lockdown and rise in domestic violence: How to tackle situation if locked with an abuser. Retrieved June 08, 2020, from https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/lockdown-rise-of-domestic-violence-how-to-tackle-situation-if-locked-with-abuser-national-commission-for-women-6406268/