Intensity of care meeting intensity of need for domestic violence survivors
Marianne Ibrahim, Domestic and Family Violence Manager at Open Support, spoke with Dr Dan Fleming in his podcast series “Compassion, Courage, Consolation : Voices for St Vincent’s during COVID-19”. Listen to the discussion to learn from Marianne how she and her team have adapted the intensity and delivery of care to domestic violence victims to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Message from Marianne
Staying at home is a constraint we have all learnt to cope with. However for women and children in abusive households, staying at home means staying within four walls of agony. Under usual circumstances, these women can often feel silenced, trapped and unable to speak. Domestic and family violence is often underpinned by coercion, control, threats to safety and an imbalance of power. In addition to this, there can be further barriers to seeking help and it can become very difficult and dangerous to leave an abusive home.
In a time like this, each of these are exacerbated immensely. These women have no access to phones, email or virtual connection, they are isolated from family and friends. They no longer can reach out to school staff when dropping off their children, or a local grocer when going to the shops. They are ‘stuck’ at home with the perpetrator.
This is important to know because each and every one of us, now more than ever, needs to pay attention and be alert. Notice your neighbours, look out for your colleagues in your virtual meetings, watch out for your family. . Keep an eye out for any changes in behaviour, they may be subtle, they may be silent, but they are there..
Women from culturally diverse backgrounds, who often face community backlash and shame when in abusive and “unsuccessful” relationships, are particularly at risk. Many of them are on temporary visas and have no friends or family nearby. These women are facing significant risks and vulnerability. Who will offer support, or ask about them, or notice their absence if they have no one?
In the coming weeks and months, domestic and family violence in the home is likely to be exacerbated and to become more severe. However, let us not forget that despite being exacerbated by the pandemic, the issue of domestic and family violence was present prior, and unfortunately will continue afterwards. With community support and focus, we may just be able to help more women and children keep safe and out of harm’s way.