• John Freedom

Protecting Yourself While Sheltering in Place

A recent article in, *The New York Times, reported that movement restrictions “…… may be making violence in homes more frequent, more severe and more dangerous.”  

With families in lockdown worldwide, there has been a dramatic rise in “intimate terrorism,” and hotlines are lighting up with abuse reports. The United Nations has called for urgent action to combat the worldwide surge in domestic violence.

What are Common Abuse Techniques?

Common techniques of abuse include:

  • Isolation from friends, family and employment;

  • Constant surveillance;

  • Strict, detailed rules for behavior;

  • Physical violence; and,

  • Restricting access to basic necessities such as food, clothing and bathrooms.

Men (and women) don’t have their usual outlets: work, the gym, the bar or places to hang out and connect with their friends. Men who’ve lost jobs or are experiencing other stress can have their self-esteem threatened. As a result, they may threaten and intimidate partners. No one likes to feel “locked up” or “caged in,” even in their own homes.

Practical Tips to Help You Stay Safe

Here are some practical tips to help you stay safe while sheltering:

Physical Safety:

  • Prepare a Safe Place:  a locked bathroom, an attic or your car. If possible go out for a walk. Prepare a Safe Place where you can retreat to and be by yourself, as needed;

  • Prepare an escape plan. Do you have a friend or family member you can escape to, even temporarily?;

  • Have clothes and supplies packed and ready;

  • If you feel you’re in danger, let someone know;

  • Give a trusted friend code words for them to call the police (if and when needed, send in a text). Give this to a few people to insure the message gets out immediately;

  • Plan ahead to make sure your children are safe;

  • Call your local domestic violence hotline or the national hotline (resource below) for support and assistance; and,

  • If things get violent, call 911 or your local police department's emergency number. They can get your location immediately if you cannot talk.

Emotional Safety:

  • Give each other space, as much as possible;

  • You know your partners’ buttons and triggers:  avoid them! Now is not the time for arguments or confrontations;

  • Have compassion for your partner and yourself.  Remember that inside every bully there is a scared little child.  He is feeling afraid, anxious and hurting, just as you are;

  • Let your partner know (if he can be available)  that you feel afraid of his anger/outbursts, and ask what you both can do to live together kindly;

  • Seek out free mediation or couple’s counseling;

  • If your partner is violent or threatening and not willing to talk about it, start making an exit plan. Feeling threatened or in danger is a form of abuse; and,

  • Practice the self-care tools available at www.frea.support.

Safety Resources 

If you are assaulted or fear you are in danger, call police and take whatever other protective actions you need to take to stay safe. Here are three resources for threatening situations:

Police in the United States: 911; Note: Check your local police department to ensure they are using the 911 emergency call system. If you’re outside the U.S. check for your local emergency number and have it available.

National Domestic Abuse Hotlinehttps://www.thehotline.org/ - Toll free number: 1-800-799-7233; TTY: 1-800-787-3224.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violencehttps://www.nrcdv.org/

Stay Safe During These Challenging Times

These are unusual times, as people are being forced to stay together for extended periods.  Do your best to take care of yourself and your family, knowing support and resources are available.


*Amanda Taub; "A New Covid-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide"; "New York Times";


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