A guide for victims and survivors of domestic abuse during COVID-19
General points to consider
Self-isolation and Stay at home guidelines mean only leaving the home for essential reasons. Unfortunately this means you and the person harming you could end up spending more time together in the same space.
Support from family, friends and neighbours
Family, friends and neighbours can be another way to get support that you need.
- Can you FaceTime or call someone you trust?
- Can you talk to them about what you are experiencing and what your concerns are?
- Do you have a code word/phrase to let someone know that it is not safe to talk or to ask someone to phone the police?
- Could you set up with someone you trust a check in call so you know that someone will contact you at certain times of the week?
How can you look after yourself?
- As much as possible stick to usual routines. Maintaining basic self-care like eating, showering, sleeping and exercising can all help your mental health.
- Take whatever breaks you can, walk around any outside space you might have, read a magazine, get the children involved in an online exercise class.
General safety planning
Do you have a personalised safety plan?
- Think about what needs updating or changing because of what is happening now.
- You can contact Jersey Domestic Abuse Support to assist with safety planning – we are here to help you. We can help whether you are living with the person hurting you or not. We will not judge.
- Do you have a supportive employer? Can you talk to them about what is happening?
- If you can, download the Hollie Guard app on your android or iPhone – this turns your smartphone into a personal safety advice.
What is the usual pattern of abuse? E.g. is it worse when the children are around or not?
- This might help you think about times when things might be calmer.
- What are your main concerns and worries? Please share these with us and if you need to ring the Police on 999 for help.
- Will the person who is harming you be out of work or working from home? Will your family income be affected? How could this affect things?
- Does the person harming you use drugs and/or alcohol? How could their use change and what could this mean?
- Do you know how they might respond to self-isolation? Think about whether this might increase the sexual violence/coercive control/physical abuse.
- Do you think there is software of your IT? Any listening devices? Cameras in the home? How will this change the way you might get help?
- Do you know what your options are if you want to leave? Or what your options are if you want to stay but want the person harming you to leave?
We can help you think through all of these areas and provided guidance and support.
Safety planning suggestions
- Have you thought about the layout of your property – can you think about any places of safety?
If you fear an attack, stay away from rooms such as the kitchen or garage where there may be knives or other items that could be used as a weapon. Avoid rooms where you may become trapped e.g. the bathroom or where you may be shut in a cupboard/small space. Stay in areas where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
We will discuss this with you in detail.
- Keep your mobile phone fully charged and carry a phone charger.
- If you had to leave in an emergency do you know where you would go? Remember that many places will be shut.
- Plan escape routes and think about how you may respond in different situations. If you can rehearse an escape plan.
- Have a bag packed and ready if you can, leave this at a trusted friend/family/neighbours home or hide somewhere safe. This should include medical essentials, important documents including passports/driving license, a spare set of keys for the house and car, a small amount of money, a change of clothes, any sentimental items, diary, toys for children.
- Take the children with you – some teenagers may not want to leave and in some cases it may be best not to force them.
- In an emergency get yourself and your children somewhere safe. Police attendance can be arranged at a later date to collect the rest of your belongings.
- Have a code word/sign to signal you are in danger – set this up for children who are old enough to understand what you are asking of them and why and/or family and friends that you trust. This code will need to alert them to contact the Police if you are in danger.
- Teach your children how to contact the Police in an emergency and what they would need to say.
- If someone you trust is doing your shopping for you could you write a message on the shopping list asking for help.
- If there are times you know you can talk, share this with your trusted person and us and we can agree how we will reach each other.
- Use the fact that there is no online shopping slots available to go to the shop and speak to someone.
Safeguarding your children
- Ensure your children know that the abuse is not their fault.
- Even if your children do not directly witness any abuse, they can still be affected by it going on as a result of witnessing or hearing violence and abuse at home, children may go on to show more emotional or behavioural problems than the average child.
- All violence and abuse between parents will profoundly threaten a child’s sense of safety.
- Encourage your children to keep safe by removing themselves during these incidents if they can.
- Teach your children how to get out of the house safely.
- Teach your children how to call the Police or other people who may be able to help, like a neighbour, family member, teacher or friend.
- If other people are looking after your children, make sure they are aware of any court orders, show them a photograph of the offender.
- Talk to someone at your child’s school so they are aware of the situation and know of any court order and what the offender looks like.
- Help and advice is available for your children if they need it.
We understand that the decision to leave an abusive relationship is incredibly difficult to make. We are here to support you without judgement regardless of whether you decide to leave or stay. We would always advise that leaving an abusive relationship should be planned unless in an emergency situation as leaving does not mean that someone will be safe.
We can help you plan to leave safely and assist with access to a range of support options including finances, alternative accommodation, access to medical care, child contact etc.
- If you do decide to leave, do so when the abuser is not around.
- Take your children with you. Some teenagers may not want to leave and in some cases it may be best not to force them.
- In an emergency, get yourself and your children somewhere safe. Police attendance can be arranged at a later date to collect the rest of your belongings with you.