news

For many families, self-isolation could be more dangerous than COVID-19.

This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers. 

The news right now is clear: We must practice social distancing.

This is to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19, and means less contact between ourselves and other people. And the best way to practice it is to stay at home.

Domestic violence: The hidden numbers. Post continues below video.

Video via Mamamia

Many workplaces have closed their offices, requesting employees work-from-home for the foreseeable future. Mass gatherings have been banned. Travel restrictions are tough and ever-changing. Around the world, we’re seeing cities – and entire countries – placed into lockdown.

Of course, this makes sense. It is to ‘flatten the curve‘, which means to mitigate the community transmission of the coronavirus to a manageable level for our health care systems.

By doing so, the government aims to lessen the number of active cases at any given time and thus ensure our healthcare system does not become overwhelmed. This method is proven to best ensure nurses, doctors and hospitals can deal with the significantly increased intake of patients during a pandemic.

When do we actually self isolate? How is that different from quarantine and what the hell is social distancing? Let us explain. Post continues below audio.

The message is to, as much as you can, stay at home. Where it’s safe.

But for many families, it is in fact the outside world that is safer. For them, home can be where it is most dangerous.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Personal Safety Survey estimated that 2.2 million adults have been victims of physical and/or sexual violence from a partner since the age of 15, 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men have been sexually harassed, and 1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men have experienced stalking.

In 2017, police recorded 25,000 victims of sexual assault.

How do you stay home when being alone with your partner or parent means you are more at risk of abuse?

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking to MamamiaRenata Field, spokesperson for Domestic Violence New South Wales, said trends in China and internationally indicate a dramatic increase in domestic violence due to the coronavirus is likely.

According to Sixth Tone, reports from China showed that incidents of domestic abuse increased following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, which saw people confined to their homes.

Economic uncertainty, anxiety, overrun support services and the lack of escape routes all culminated in the perfect storm, and women and children paid the price.

“Unfortunately the home is often not a safe place for women and children in Australia, with at least one in four women having experienced intimate partner violence since the age of 15,” Field told Mamamia.

“For many survivors, work and school are safe places to escape from away from the home, and the lack of these safe spaces will lead to increased risk and concerns for safety.”

Field said DVNSW is working with the NSW state government to ensure the right level of support is available to the people in need.

Additional measures, such as additional crisis accommodation to allow for self-isolation, designated supports for people experiencing abuse who have the virus and funding for surge staffing to manage additional reports of abuse are also being considered.

Field said currently, advice for those experiencing domestic violence is the same: Call 000 if you or anyone you know is at imminent risk of harm, and call 1800 RESPECT to speak with a trained domestic violence specialist about planning for safety and your next steps.

The world is in a strange place. Self-isolation, social distancing and quarantine are all new, confusing experiences for all of us, but it’s crucial we look out for one another.

“In this time of special measures and social isolation, it’s important to stay connected to each other via phone and social media – reach out to people you think might need it,” Field told Mamamia.

“If you have concerns for anyone in your friendship group or family, or if anyone discloses violence to you, believe them and connect them to the many services out there designed to help.”

If you or someone you know is in danger or there is an immediate risk of harm, call 000. 

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

00:00 / ???