With the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Australia rising above 2000, isolation and social distancing is starting to become the new normal for the foreseeable future. For many of us, the silver lining to these new safety measures is the ability to work from home, spend more time with the family we are quarantined with and being with our pets all day. However, the reality is that these new arrangements will likely see a significant increase in domestic violence incidents.
In addition to the new measures being put in place, there is also serious concern for the financial position of many Australian families with an increase in unemployment expected over the next few months. Having this financial and economical pressure on couples and families is likely to trigger an increase in financial abuse (by way of one party controlling finances), as well as physical and emotional abuse as people begin to have difficulty coping with the new financial pressures and living in close confines with one another for an extended period of time.
The new measures also make it harder for people currently experiencing domestic violence to escape. While majority of us are still coming to terms with what isolation entails, it is not uncommon for victims to be isolated from family, friends and workplaces. These imposed isolation safety measures are likely going to increase the domestic violence they endure from partners and families. Further, many victims usually take the opportunity of going to the shops, going for an afternoon walk to the park or picking the children up from school as an opportunity to have some time away from the abuse and this is now longer an option.
It is important that people who need support know that they are not alone. If you, or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence there are several things you can do to assist:
- Take the time to listen. Give them the opportunity to speak rather than telling them your opinions on what they should do. People going through domestic violence need to feel supported and know that they are being heard. Similarly, if you are finding yourself in a situation of domestic violence, reach out to anyone who you trust and be honest about what is occurring at your family home.
- Provide support. This is difficult given the isolation requirements currently in place, however, continue to check in over the phone or online to ensure they are okay.
- Refer them to support services. This includes various national hotlines including 1800RESPECT and your local domestic violence crisis services. Australian Family Lawyers are available to assist remotely during this time.
- Contact Police. If you hold serious safety concerns for yourself, your children, your family members or your friends call emergency services immediately.
If you have any questions or hold concerns for yourself or someone you know, please do not hesitate to contact our team. Our offices will remain open and our team will be available to assist you throughout these unprecedented COVID-19 safety measures.