Corona Virus crisis: Domestic violence during lock down
In the wake of the global pandemic, Covid-19, people found themselves confined within their homes for safety. Lock down has proven to be a tough time for many, it also became a time to slow down and self care, for self discovery, for catching up with favorite TV shows and binge-worthy movies, for setting fitness goals, and learning new things like cooking, and sewing. The global community has come together through social media and other platforms to keep each other entertained, and to support causes relevant to fighting against the pandemic such as food donations to healthcare workers, and raising funds to help homeless people find shelter and safety during lock down. Although a lot of activities have been shut down, digital media has become a tool used by many to stay on track regarding work and school. Simply put, the cost of safety is staying home by all means, however, some people would rather get infected by the virus, than staying home, and by “ some people” I mean domestic violence victims.
“Stay home, stay safe” has become the new slogan, but to domestic violence victims quarantined with their offenders, staying home is a harsh obligation that they would rather die of the Corona virus instead. In a recent article titled “ no lock down for domestic violence,” Shemin Joy recounts a shattering story of a woman in Delhi, who ran to her mother’s place, before forced lock down was imposed, to seek safety from her abusive husband, but was later beaten up by her brother who found her a burden to the family. The article entails that the world health organization has said that the risk of intimate partner violence is likely to increase as the number of domestic violence cases reported in Jingzhou, china, tripled in February 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. In the United states helpline calls have risen by 25%, while 16 killings of women and children were recorded in the first three weeks of lock down.
These are few cases among many across the world of people who live with abusive partners or parents, these victims had previously found solace in a few hours spent at work or school, but cannot do so anymore as they are forced to stay home 24 hours, everyday. Domestic violence victims, are not just faced with physical pain, but also mental health deterioration, by either submitting to their “forced” fate, or by constantly seeking ways out such as suicide. A recent publication by the guardian, included a helpline number that people could use and ask for help. It is one thing to be abused, but when you risk more by openly calling for help, the situation becomes paralyzing. “Time” has reportedly said that perpetrators are using the pandemic as an excuse to isolate victims from friends and family, and have withheld financial resources as well as medical assistance. Some perpetrators even threatened to throw their victims on the street so that they can get sick.
Victims are not just facing violence and abuse, but ignorance and silence from the rest of the world. As people are battling against the corona virus, it is easy to be caught up with personal issues and trying to find a balance during lock down, and forget about issues that could potentially change lives of many communities. Domestic violence is a crime that renders homes unsafe places for many, and one thing victims seek beyond justice is empathy, they need the rest of the world to not just feel their pain but to help them find ways out of the abusive situations. It is uncertain that there would be shelters ready to accommodate all the victims or if the police could possibly arrest perpetrators before too much damage is done to the victims.
Going back to the idea of submitting to the constant abuse and mental health, victims go through different phases although there is no proof that they respond similarly. The first response of the brain during danger is either fright or flight, some victims choose flight, by either seeking justice or by totally walking away, while others don’t always have a choice and their brains go into flight mode. These victims tend to ,at some point, start believing that they deserve whatever is happening to them, they start to think that they don’t deserve to be happy, and they start making compromises to their perpetrators so as to find few moments of peace. Fright doesn’t always make the victims submissive, to some the fear and pain become unbearable that they develop coping mechanisms such as drug abuse and alcoholism, and when they fall short of these mechanisms, and without emotional support, they take their own lives, or they end up being killed by their perpetrators. When physical pain is combined with emotional instability there is no control of what one might do, even though some cover it up very well until the last strings are pulled, victims tend to lose their joy of living, which also might affect people around them, especially victims who are parents or caretakers and guardians. They fear that children or protegee might have to endure the same fate and usually sacrifice themselves for their sake.Domestic violence is usually associated with gender based violence, although the two are not entirely mutually exclusive, it is important to remember that anybody, regardless of their gender, race, social status, or education, can become a victim of domestic violence. Perpetrators are not always individuals with superiority, children abuse their parents, siblings can be abusive too, even people who are not related such as roommates. It is necessary to keep an eye on neighbors or friends that we suspect could be living with violent individuals, and not hesitate to call out for help on their behalf.
While some people have found creative ways of helping victims find help, such as ordering an item online that would alert the seller of the situation, victims keep facing a tough time during lockdown. Some communities have resolved to sign petitions urging their governments to act on behalf of their domestic violence victims during lockdown and instigate safety systems. If there is one lesson we can all learn is that “nobody deserves a tragedy.” and being stuck in a violent household with no way out is as tragic as anything can be, moreover, this is a situation that can dawn on each one of us at any point in our lives, therefore this calls for more attention and more effort, not just during the lockdown, but at any given time, we are all responsible for finding an adequate solution to this issue, to offer help when need be, to be empathetic, and to not be tolerant or silent about any crime against humanity. We must by all means seek ways to disrupt systems that disregard violence of all sorts, to create hope for the victims, and to those who survive domestic violence, we must be accomodating and emotionally supportive to help them reconstruct healthy and ambitious lifestyles. We must also keep in mind that the world is not a perfect place, and even though it doesn’t justify all the wrong, it is a call for patience and resilience for the wrong is not about to be gone for good, regardless, we must always submit to positive change.