What to do if you're in an abusive situation during COVID-19

Hello all, this week was a little different than before. I reached out to ask our audience what topic they would like to hear about, and someone asked about resources for people in abusive situations during this pandemic. This is a very important issue, and I'm glad that I could put together some advice from experts along with a long list of resources that are available to Albertans right now.

This topic sort of ties in with last week’s topic of healthy relationships. Many of us right now are striving to maintain healthy relationships with the people we are living with (and that is definitely a challenge) which is why I wanted to talk about relationships in lockdown. However, I know that there are also those in abusive situations/relationships in this pandemic that are now stuck with their abusers, and they are going through a very different situation.

The first and most important thing to know, and I’m quoting Julie Lalonde here, "'is that shelters are still open, sexual assault centres are still open, and also, that you can call a shelter even if you’re not looking for housing and just say ‘I’m thinking of leaving this person, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to go,’ says Julie Lalonde. ‘People are still working, they’re still picking up the phones, volunteers are still there to support you,” she adds. ‘Because there’s been such a lockdown, people really do assume that everything is on hold right now and that’s not the case.’” (Martins, 2020, https://edmonton.citynews.ca/2020/04/19/help-available-advocate-advice-women-abusive-relationships-covid/).

Additionally, “In Canada, funds recently committed by the government could help boost the capacity at shelters. [On April 4], the Prime Minister announced that the government would contribute $40 million to Women and Gender Equality Canada. About $30 million of that will go to more than 500 women’s shelters and various sexual assault centres across the country. The remaining $10 million will go to Indigenous women and children’s shelters” (Sachedina & Forani, 2020, https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/domestic-violence-increases-with-stay-home-pandemic-response-1.4885597).

Remember, you are not alone in this. There are people out there whose job it is to help you, and they are still hard at work right now. I found a guide for victims and survivors of domestic abuse: https://safelives.org.uk/news-views/domestic-abuse-and-covid-19 that you can look at if you need it.

From Kristen Fuller’s article “Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse during COVID-19” she notes that: “although many domestic violence service providers are not seeing as many clients in person because of the virus, and are pivoting their services to hotlines, phone consultations, and virtual sessions, shelters are deemed an "essential business," and therefore are still open" (Fuller, 2020, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/202004/intimate-partner-violence-and-child-abuse-during-covid-19).

She also recommends developing a safety plan:

· “Have a list of local domestic violence shelters in your area and find out if they are accepting walk-ins. This should be the first step in your action safety plan.

· Have a trusted friend or family member who you can "shelter in place" with if you are in imminent danger.

· Communicate with your friends and family daily for support.