In the current climate of social distancing and self isolation it's easy to forget about Australia's other national crisis: the domestic violence epidemic.
As we face daily changes in the way we move within society we must spare a thought for women and children already at risk of violence. For many of these families the next few months will be harder than ever. They will face prolonged social disconnection, hours upon hours of forced time at home with their abusers and a much greater loss of autonomy than the rest of us.
It will be interesting post-Corona to see just how much rates of domestic violence have increased. Partner and child homicide included. Perhaps the bulk of incidents will go unreported purely because of the added risks involved in seeking help at this time? As terrifying as this thought seems we must not let fear keep us silent. We must continue to find ways to support these members of society.
Not sure how to support someone you know is at risk? Talk to them about their safety plans. Ask them where they plan to go if they have to leave. Ask them if they have considered buying a 'dumb phone' (which carry much less risk of security breaches) and hiding it somewhere in the home in case they need to make an emergency call if their abuser has taken their other phone. Ask them if they have money aside for essentials or emergency supplies. Ask them if they would like you to drop groceries at their door. Ask them if they have a 'go word' which they can text you if they need emergency support from the Police.
It's up to us all to monitor high risk families. Isolation cannot be an excuse to forget them.
- Erica is a Women's Health Counsellor in private practice in the NSW Southern Highlands. You can read more about her work at www.shecounselling.com.au. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0412 707 242.