Lockdown and being trapped in domestic abuse
*Content warning: the following article includes references to domestic abuse and emotional trauma.
I look out of the window at the snow settling on the ground. It's cold outside and even a walk with this biting wind is not an option. I try to stay positive but the stark reality is that actually we are all physically trapped in whatever situations and houses we find ourselves in.
I am aware it's now become nearly a year since we went into the first lockdown, where we were all shocked by the news, but we seemed to manage somehow and our spirits were of hope and determination to overcome the fight against the virus. As time has moved on, being trapped within our homes even for people without domestic abuse has been challenging, and working from home for many sounds easy but simply, it is not.
One needs to focus on the hope that the vaccines are being rolled out and that there is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel in terms of lockdown.
For many of us, it's a time of reflection without any escape for a break from our thoughts and the reality of our current situation and of our past mistakes, regrets, the fear of what may await us or family members. Our anxiety runs high and one tries to make sense of the pandemic taking away life as we knew it. One watches helplessly as we see how many lives are lost and the numbers displayed of how many deaths there are at times seem like numbers which we struggle to comprehend. Times are indeed uncertain and none of us can know what will be the outcome. We are powerless.
I feel that I only know too well how the impact of domestic abuse on top of all this will play out. I have experienced the fear and the pain of a marriage that was abusive and as I remember this, I feel pain radiate throughout my body as a tear goes down my face. It feels like yesterday, yet it was over 20 years ago where the darkness and pain were my reality.
I recall the door opening as my husband came home and how I felt that I couldn't move quick enough, that I was paralysed and that I just couldn't make my legs move. I felt that negative energy go through me. You see I wanted him to love me and to see me at my best, but it never worked out like that. His words were hurtful and despite trying to brush them to one side as I had rehearsed in the day, it never worked out like that. All he saw was the shadow of the woman I was and I didn't recognise or even like the person he moulded me into.
I cried from the hurtful words that he said about me and despite trying to explain that his accusations were not true, my words never came out properly and his yelling over me and swearing meant I never got to finish the sentence. I then would analyse which words hurt the most when in fact they all hurt. Looking back it seems like a strange thing to do but I was trying to make some sense from them.
However, I think during my tears and confusion I decided that the sexual comments were the worst. I think that's why I had to leave, I knew I had to find the strength and energy as well to leave the man I still loved. You see if you are going through this at the time of reading this, you will know how this feels. All you want is peace and to please your partner and have a happy family. Having children meant I had to carry on and had I not had my children then my options weren't looking good. Those were in the dark days. The days and nights were I didn't want to wake up.
So for those trapped in domestic abusive situations, I understand there is no escape meaning that Lockdown domestic violence gives way to the 'perfect storm'. There is no friend one can go and stay with or even having a telephone call for many is not an option. The person controlling the relationship has his/her victim trapped physically and mentally. There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Having our options taken away creates even more anxiety and my heart goes out to those in these situations.
Domestic violence is a subject that many may not have experienced and don't understand how this happens. I think it's a subject that I hate to say that people shy away from. In my own situation at the time, I felt isolated and even a close friend never understood and I was judged further for having got myself into' the situation'! Needless to say, I lost my friend too. It really is the most hurtful and isolating place to be and should there be an opportunity to ever ring a helpline then I suggest one does this just for some emotional support.
Support for domestic abuse
This is a time where we need to not judge ourselves and try to just survive these times. It's not easy for sure but if one can muddle through then that's ok. My mother always said when life's a challenge just muddle through.
For all of you going through domestic violence, firstly it's not your fault.
You weren't to know he/she wasn't the person you believed them to be when you first met them. Why would anyone want to be abused? you wouldn't. If they had shown their true colours to you at the start you would have run a mile!
So what can you do during these trapped times? All we may have is to focus on our survival. Please use support phone lines or online counselling if at all possible. Many counsellors understand the impact of domestic violence on your life and may offer discounted rates or negotiate this with you. Any counsellor/therapist will understand your situation. They will keep any notes confidential and will never telephone you without your permission. We are trained to deal with these situations.
In summary, we know that lockdown has generated additional risks. The lockdown is making reporting domestic violence harder. It also means that some abusers are using the lockdown rules to intensify their control. One needs to focus on the hope that the vaccines are being rolled out and that there is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel in terms of lockdown. If you can have the opportunity to talk with a helpline or counsellor you'll be able to get support regardless of the type of crime you are experiencing and trained supporters will listen to you respectfully and sensitively.
One day there will be a way out of your prison, we must all make this our business to protect those directly affected by domestic violence.
Do you need immediate help? Please call 999 for immediate support, or you can call the Samaritans for free on 116 123.
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