There is not a home in our community that is not impacted by the pandemic. People have lost their jobs, have reduced work hours, or are working from home. Parents and students are trying to manage a variation of homeschooling. There are limited opportunities to leave home which results in binge-watching TV, overeating, and disrupted sleep patterns. Together these components cause even more stress and family in-balance, in an already unhealthy family system, often resulting in increased violence.
The third part, of NAM’s 5-part series of a look into family violence in the shadow of COVID-19, Sheryl Johnson, Director of the Family Violence Center, will discuss quarantine and escalating abuse in a household.
Why would a family staying home together almost 24/7, who are striving for the same goal of working, homeschooling, and staying healthy create more violence in the household?
“The stress in a family system is real and from many different directions,” explained Johnson. “In a healthy family, these types of hills and valleys can be easier to navigate, but in an unhealthy environment where abuse is already present, these changes are the equivalent of ‘fuel for a fire.”
How does stress cause someone to become violent?
“While stress does not cause a person to become violent; a person who tends to already be violent, becomes more so when they are stressed,” Johnson clarified. “If they had been yelling or name calling prior to the pandemic, it is possible that with the stresses of the pandemic, they are now pushing or shoving. If previously they were pushing or shoving, perhaps now they are punching or strangulating.”
The longer a batterer is quarantined with their family or significant other the more the abuse will escalate?
“Yes. Another element that makes this frightening is that when the physical violence escalates, the batterer often tightens all controls concerning the family. This might restrict her ability to get medical care after being beaten.”
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from domestic violence, call NAM’s Family Violence Center 24-hour hotline for help. Call (281) 885-4673 or toll-free at (888) 750-4673.
The Family Violence Center is dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence by assisting victims of domestic and sexual violence through crisis intervention, long-term support services, and through community violence and awareness prevention education.