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Surviving domestic violence during a pandemic

Apr 14, 2020, 2:44 PM | Updated: 7:29 pm
domestic violence signs surviving domestic violence...
FILE PHOTO (Image credit: Getty Images.)
(Image credit: Getty Images.)

SALT LAKE CITY — The stay-at-home measures implemented during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic have created additional stresses for families and have increased the number of domestic violence calls to police. In Utah County, calls related to domestic violence have shot up by 75%. 

Where does someone go when they find themselves locked inside with their abuser?

Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Liz Hale, told Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos, there are many options victims have to help them survive domestic violence at this time.

Hale stresses self-care is one of the most important things that someone who is struggling with domestic violence can do during a pandemic. She advises you to keep moving and focusing on your well being.

“Motion is one of the best ways to deal with emotion,” Hale said. “Flexibility is truly the key to mental health, be willing to give and to take.”

All of the strain being put onto ourselves and our families due to the pandemic may be a trigger for some domestic violence situations.

“Someone who is in that situation, living with an abuser, male/female, old/young, it comes in every size and shape sadly. They are surviving every day,” said Hale. “You can’t make a decision for someone else but you can encourage their well-being.”

Reaching out by phone while we social distance is a very important measure to check on loved ones who may be in need, according to Hale.

For those currently in domestic violence situations, Hale says there are a few things to keep in mind.

Create a safety plan

“Leaving is probably the most dangerous,” said Hale. “Think that plan out.”

“Have a safety plan when there is an explosive incident,” Hale said. “Maybe that means having a bag packed and ready, keeping your phone with you at all times, maybe devise a code word that you tell others if you need to flee or call the police.”

“Write down and document the times of abuse and what happened,” Hale said. “Trust  your judgment.”

“That person on the front lines, they need to consider anything and everything that will keep them safe,” Hale said. “Sometimes it is best to leave, sometimes it is best to stay and placate the abuser.”

Plan where to go

It is important to seek alternatives and ask yourself ‘where am I going to go, when I do go?’

Hale said there are a variety of places to go in dangerous situations, including:

Shelters

Motels 

Staying with family or friends 

Dr. Hale says that domestic violence victims have sharpened instincts and are some of the most aware people she has worked with.

“They live it day in and day out. They can feel what’s about to go up, they know what’s going to set somebody off,” said Hale.”They’ve really learned how to fashion themselves in such a way to try and stay safe and to keep their kids safe.”

Abuse can look like many things, resulting in one having power and control over another person. And new to that list is a new virus that has everybody asking a lot of questions.

“COVID-19 is one more external force an abuser can use over his victims in an already stressful time,” said Hale. “They can share misinformation, can use the pandemic to prevent them from seeing family members.”

According to Hale, it’s simple for those who are not in domestic violence situations to say ‘just leave,’ however, an abusive relationship is not a black and white situation.

Dr. Hale mentions there’s more support for victims of domestic violence than ever before. If you, or someone you know, is suffering from domestic violence, there are resources to be utilized.

“You are not alone. You can get educated and you can get away. There are people to help you,” said Dr. Hale.

Resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

TEXT ‘love is’ to 22522

www.thehotline.org

Utah Domestic Violence Link Line: 1-800-897-5465

Listen to the full episode:

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Surviving domestic violence during a pandemic