A friend asked me on the weekend why there was so much concern about family violence at the current time. In an effort to explain the impact of the current Covid-19 crisis on vulnerable families I asked her to imagine the following scenario…
Many families in our community exist with a level of tension even during good times – whether it be a legacy of communication breakdown, an inability to resolve conflict in a more positive way or the legacy of their own exposure to violence as children or young adults and many find it hard to avoid tensions escalating.
There are many things that can escalate that tension such as general anxiety and depression, job loss, financial stress, the decline of the family business, the prospect of not making the next mortgage payment, maybe even the strain of everyday life with kids and particularly kids who are emotionally heightened, stuck at home and out of routine. What about the situation where there is a perception that there is simply no place to go?
Grandma and Grandad’s house is unavailable because their particularly vulnerable and presently in isolation. The neighbour or your closest friends have a serious health concern and you’re reluctant to go there. Your workmates, who’ve previously been so good at picking up on when things are pear shaped at home, aren’t available to you. Add to this isolation and tension the prospect of there being limited to no space from each other and then top it off with the potential abuse of alcohol and you have a powerful recipe for a pressure cooker that may potentially result in the loss of life, and certainly irreparable physical, and emotional harm to members of many families.
We believe that parents love their kids (there will obviously be exceptions), but we hold a genuine view that the great majority of parents would not intentionally allow their children to be physically or emotionally scarred. That said, parents do allow children to remain in pressure cookers and be exposed to their own abuse by a spouse despite having the greatest of intentions. It’s important that at the foundation of this discussion is an understanding that children whom are exposed to violence, including coercive and controlling violence, will be impacted psychologically – they will be harmed. The last thing you need as a protective parent is to feel any guilt with regard to the past, but you must feel wholeheartedly supported and obliged to seek to end a cycle of abuse, and seek help immediately for both yourself and your children.
So what can we do?
First and foremost, if you are in this situation, and fearful for the wellbeing of all of you – there is help.
If you are in immediate danger then leave your home with your children and seek police assistance as a matter of urgency. Leaving your home on this basis does not mean that you cannot return with the protection of a Court Order at a later time.
White Ribbon have collated an exceptional collection of telephone supports which are available to you right now and the Australian Government has communicated its support for these services by the provision in recent days of dedicated funding.
If you are concerned that one of your family members, friends, neighbours or colleagues is caught up in an escalating situation then consider private messaging them the information available here. Think seriously about contacting them first to ensure that their communications are private and that your contact won’t potentially lead to greater conflict if discovered.
Offer them refuge and contact the police and support services above. Whilst technically in breach of current regulations for the congregation of members of the public, where there is an immediate safety issue, we as a society would hope that common sense prevails and prosecution for this would be unlikely. However, obviously maintain appropriate precautions, but offer safety first and foremost.
If you then require assistance to seek a formal protection Order and navigate the legal and practical implications of separation then we are here – and available by telephone or video conference within 24 hours. Contact our team today for a confidential discussion about your options and how we can help.