Talking about sensitive topics or situations, such as domestic violence, has never been easy. But we can’t talk only about easy things, even real and serious problems need to be talked about. Often. Daily. They should no longer be considered taboo topics; we should not turn around! Instead, we should help as much as we can. For most of us, #stamacasa means Netflix, Zoom, sports, boredom, cooking together, cuddling the little pets. For too many women and too many children or adolescents, unfortunately, isolation means horror. Fights and helplessness. A horror movie that doesn’t seem to end.
We wish we could come to your aid regardless of age, gender, environment, or where you are in isolation, and for this, we talked with Liviu Elefterie, ATLAS Specialist, about increasing the bouts of violence during isolation. This interview came out; we hope it will be helpful.
How can we describe the psychological impact of domestic violence?
Domestic violence can be found in all age groups and in all social levels. Most of the time, we hear about abused women and children, but we have to point out that there are two other categories of people who, unfortunately, are not so visible when it comes to abuse, and here I am referring to older people and men.
Shame and isolation lead them not to reveal it.
Psychologically, if the idea of “home” involves physical and mental safety and security, as well as shelter, then a child, an adult, or an elderly person affected by domestic violence experiences a loss of identity. Domestic violence can be: physical, sexual, or psychological, but all these three can coexist.
Domestic violence is always characterized by the use of control and psychological abuse.
- Victimization is associated with changes in the abuser’s perception, especially a belief in his self-power and changes in the victim’s perception of herself.
- Feelings of self-blame, shame, and loss of self-esteem are extremely common.
- Psychological defenses used to deal with violence include denying it and minimizing its severity.
- The acts of coercion and intermittent kindness of the abuser can maintain the relationship and give false hope to the abused person that the violence will end.
Does domestic violence increase due to isolation?
Of course, It does! There are many factors that bring us to this point, namely, stress, anxiety, irritability, fear.
When we talk about stress and anxiety, we mean not losing your job, your business, not getting sick, not losing your social position and relationships. We are not talking about the classic abuser, but about a category of people who before isolation were not abusers in their family because they were releasing their anger, their energy through other methods and in other environments, and now they have found themselves in a 24-hour relationship where we can say that privacy no longer exists.
This causes a state of tension on both sides and leads to an escalation of tension and divergences.
We need to make it clear that privacy is not only about living/being with your partner, but also about those moments we offer to ourselves. We must understand that habit gives us safety, and in this case, no one is used to this isolation. All habits are suddenly stopped, and that creates a very high tension.
What steps can you take to stop you from resorting to violence?
The measures, most of the time, are individual because the response to this stress is different from person to person.
Here we can give the example of a parent who enjoys the presence of children and the time spent together, of being connected to them, but we also have situations where parents feel overwhelmed by the energy of children and their need to spend time together. Just as I said above, when personal privacy is attacked, often, our response is anger.
They can appease our anger:
- creating an area of privacy
- compliance with other people’s habits
- adaptation through compassion and respect for the new situation.
We must understand that those around us are going through the same moments and moods like ours. It’s time to take a break, look our partner in the eye for a few moments, and try to see each other through his eyes.
We will find that he most likely feels the same things that we do. It is time to discover ourselves and the traumas of our past, to talk about them, to learn to communicate in a real manner, and to listen to ourselves.
Is there any form in which the abused person can defend herself?
If we were talking above about the case of the abuser formed in the new pandemic situation, we must bring up the classic abuser. This abuser often has an addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc. These addictions must be understood by them, but also by those close to them.
Addictions are just a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself; they are just a way through which the addict seeks to solve certain childhood traumas, traumas that disconnect us from ourselves. Additions are a normal response to an abnormal situation; they are just a desperate attempt by the individual to relieve the pain.
It would be great to find out exactly what that trauma is and try to solve it.
Dr. Gabor Mate said:
Not all people with childhood trauma have addictions, but all addicts have childhood trauma.
We are all trying to recreate at some level the energy of our childhood in search of the love that we did not receive as we wanted then. About the abuse, I can say that behind any action lies a need! What is the need that he seeks and receives from that abuse is the key question in his recovery.
Domestic violence victims who are forced to stay at home with the abusers, whether we are talking about social permissiveness to violence in a couple, or socio-economic factors such as financial dependence or isolation imposed by the authorities, both men and women, their immediate concern is the minimization of exposure to aggression and injury.
Consequently, when an abuser and a victim live together, the objective is to take measures designed to prevent abuse.
If leaving the relationship is not seen as a possibility to protect yourself, then the help of the competent authorities is at hand. If this option is not valid either, in some cases, the victim may make a plan restricting access to various objects that the abuser may use (sharp knives, as well as heavy objects or sharp-edged objects, coffee cups, and handy appliances on the countertop, etc.).
In this context, the victim can also call on relatives or friends to bring her various groceries under the pretext of fear of getting sick. This is because many abusers have better behavior in the company of others. As a practical matter, even if a friend or a family member has to communicate through a door and let what they bring out to be sanitized, the objective is to create a diversion that can help lower tension.
Also, in the current context, where socialization is reduced to the internet, the victim can use this excuse to appeal to friends and/or family.
People who still go to work can call on colleagues or loved ones and make a financial and necessary reserve for a short period of time. Try to be a good parent to yourself, see what you would say if your child was in your situation, what advice would you give him and follow those tips!
Fortunately, even if the period is one of great social and emotional crises, support lines, and some centers to help victims of domestic violence remain open.
The ATLAS Help Line is available for free 24/7 by calling 031 630 2020. We’re here to listen to you and find a solution together. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. It’s not your fault what you’re going through; you don’t deserve it, nobody, you never deserve it.