We are living in unprecedented times with the rapid spread of Coronavirus and governments around the world taking action in different ways. In the UK, the government has encouraged working from home where possible, social distancing and self isolation for 14 days if you feel unwell with Coronavirus symptoms. These are uncertain times for us all which can increase stress, anxiety and mood changes. At Restored we are especially aware that home is not safe for everyone. Women living with an abusive partner may be fearful of being further isolated with seemingly no escape. Men who choose to abuse can use coercive and controlling behaviour as tactics to hinder survivors gaining the help and support needed. This can include accessing the health care needed, including emergency care.
Often going to work may be the only means of escape from abuse during the week. With many of us now working from home, this option is removed. It can heighten the feeling (and reality) of isolation at a time when we need friends and colleagues around. It can be a frightening prospect for some.
Practical Action For Employers and Colleagues
So what can you do and what can employers and colleagues look out for during these times of working from home and self-isolation?
- Keep in touch and make regular contact with your employee(s).
- Request them to be in a room on their own when you call so that they have a legitimate reason for personal space. This then enables them to disclose abuse or difficulties at home if they need/want to do so.
- Ask how working from home is going and if everything at home is OK.
- Agree with colleagues in advance that if they are fearful about being at home that there is a safe phrase or word to use so that help can be gained in an emergency. For example, 'Have you got the password for the white/xx file?' or something similarly innocuous. If the answer is yes then they need help and if no, then they are safe.
- Have the National Domestic Violence Helpline number to hand 0808 2000 247 (08 repeat 08, formed in the year 2000 and open 24 hours 7 days a week - 0808 2000 247) and pass it on.
- Encourage those who you know may be at risk to complete a safety plan.
Practical Action for Survivors
This can be a fearful time. Your mind may be spinning with managing the many commitments, responsibilities and childcare. Self care is even more important at these times. Here are some tips to keeping yourself as safe and sane as you can whilst working from home:
- Make a safety plan and keep yourself safe as much as you can. Locate a safe place to be inside the house, hopefully with a locked door (usually the bathroom but this can have its own dangers) that you can use until things have calmed down. The kitchen is not a safe room.
- Connect with others via WhatsApp or Snapchat as long as your abusive partner is not checking your phone. If they do check your phone, delete the messages straight away once sent. Inform a person you can trust, and is safe to contact, to let them know the situation and agree to check in regularly with them.
- Get help and support. Women's Aid and Refuge know and understand these issues in the UK. There will be local providers in different countries. Find out about the services available. Hotpeachpages.net has different countries services but we are not sure how updated it is now.
- Ask for help. Don't blame yourself or feel guilty.
- In an emergency, get out. Safety is the highest priority. If you and/or your children's life is in danger, leave.
These are not exhaustive lists and there will be other things that you can do to stay safe, healthy and well during these times.
Remember we have lots of resources on our website:
- The Church Pack here can be downloaded and passed on to employees/employers.
- Our Handbook for Survivors of Domestic Abuse can be ordered by giving a safe address (for example this may be a neighbour's address) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org The handbook is free to survivors of domestic abuse whilst stocks last. We ask for a donation of £5 or £10 or more if you can afford so that we can continue to give it away free to survivors. You can donate here
- Making a safety plan is here
- Survivors can join the Survivors Network. Info here
The Restored team is working from home but we have a small stock of Survivors Handbooks that we can send out for now. We check email on a daily basis.
Keep safe and healthy.