Photo by Sydney Sims
Isolation is challenging everybody but individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders, can be especially challenged. This can exacerbate or initiate problems with domestic violence and can seriously threaten those in recovery from addiction.
Most people depend on human contact for a sense of wellness. Isolation can lead to depression that includes sadness, irritability, and emptiness. Many feel that the unique environmental stressors of the COVID-19 crisis will create an unusually large proportion of the population who develop depression.
Our bodies are not designed to handle social deprivation for long, say experts. Those living alone and lacking social opportunities are at risk, and this may include many people who are in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Online recovery meetings and activities can be critical for the estimated 10 percent of Americans in recovery. Connecting virtually with supportive friends and family is also essential to prevent a recurrence of substance use disorder.
At the same time, tight quarters are creating anxiety for many and testing even the strongest of relationships. This can be especially true if you live with people who are unsupportive of your recovery.
Dr. Deni Carise explains that “Whether you are feeling alone and socially isolated or are about to suffocate from those in your own home, you do have options. You may be struggling with depression or anxiety, but there are things within your control that you can do to help.”
Additionally some people are more fearful of those within their own home than any coronavirus.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states that, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. During this pandemic, one Atlanta-area hospital is seeing a 15% increase in domestic violence cases in their facility. The New York Times says “hotlines are lighting up” with abuse reports and that Italy, Spain, and China have all seen similarly frightening upticks.
Domestic Violence, now often referred to as “Intimate Terrorism”, always increases during times when people spend more time together such as holidays, etc. It also increases when people (and even animals) are in close quarters, with decreased space. The Coronavirus and resulting ‘stay-at-home’ orders have increased these issues. There are documented increases in domestic violence in China, Italy, Spain, France, and the US, just about everywhere that understandably put restrictions in place. Italy saw an increase in cases about 2 weeks after their stay at home orders, and other countries are finding the same time frame.
Dr. Deni explains that “experts agree that victims of domestic violence should disregard orders to stay at home if they need to seek immediate refuge. As confinement drags on, the danger may intensify. Get out of an unsafe domestic relationship immediately. Traditional shelters could be high risk for contracting the Coronavirus due to close quarters, so call a friend, your sponsor, or other family members, anyone supportive of you, and see if you can stay with them.”
Darkness to Light has released a new training, Protecting Children During a Crisis to help adults and caregivers navigate the unusual circumstances they may be facing in protecting children from abuse due to the current global health crisis. Darkness to Light is providing this resource at no
cost through its online portal. In its first week of release, over 1,000 individuals signed up to complete the 30-minute training.
“We know that 30% of children who are sexually abused are abused by a family member,” said Katelyn N. Brewer, President and CEO of Darkness to Light. “The unintended consequence of social distancing and quarantines is – as you might expect – children now forced to spend long periods in their homes with an abuser. For so many children, school and extracurricular activities provide a refuge, and now they may be feeling even more helpless and hopeless.”
Protecting Children During a Crisis is designed to help adults adapt to any situation where a parent or caregiver may need to modify the steps they take to protect children because of a situation out of their control. The training helps adults identify new situations and change child protection strategies in response.
The training can be accessed online at www.D2L.org and offers a crisis plan worksheet, featured videos, example scenarios, and steps for minimizing the opportunity for child sexual abuse.
To learn more about the training or to find other resources, visit www.D2L.org.