The COVID-19 pandemic has put the focus front and center on staying well. Social distancing and other guidelines are in place, many continue to work from home, modify their routines and adopt more “home-based” activities. Unfortunately, for individuals of domestic violence, being confined at home with an abusive partner may elevate the threat of violence.
Domestic violence can affect anyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Domestic violence is perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner and is about the perpetrator having power and control. The signs of domestic violence are not always obvious and can be difficult to recognize. An accidental witness to verbal abuse may wonder, “Are those scathing comments indicative of something more?”
When a relationship is in its early stages, jealousy and possessiveness may be quickly dismissed. Excuses for behavior are allowed and apologies accepted. But, domestic violence often escalates as the relationship progresses. Dictating how a partner should dress, who they are allowed to see, where they may go and when, are just a few instances of abusive tendencies.
Domestic violence involves behavior meant to control, scare or harm. It often occurs in the home and can include emotional abuse, psychological violence, sexual violence and physical violence. Specific examples of domestic violence include (but are not limited to): intimidation; verbal abuse; accusations; social isolation; hitting; kicking; shoving; sexual coercion; stalking; cyber-stalking and financial abuse.
The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary. Physical injury is usually the most obvious danger, but the emotional and psychological consequences are also quite significant.
People who experience domestic violence may feel helpless and alone, and their self-worth can be destroyed. They may also experience anxiety and depression. Often times they are afraid for their safety which may prevent them from seeking help.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 10 million people a year are physically abused by an intimate partner. An important step in preventing or stopping domestic violence is recognizing the warning signs of an abuser. Visit the NCADV’s website at www.ncadv.org for comprehensive information and a lengthy list of warning signs.
For anonymous, confidential help that is available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Or, visit www.thehotline.org.
Old Colony Elder Services (OCES), a non-profit agency designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, provides independent, conflict-free assessments and care coordination for in-home and community-based long-term services through many different programs, including a Protective Services Program. OCES’ Protective Services Program team works with older adults or their designees to prevent, eliminate or remedy situations involving emotional, physical or sexual abuse, neglect by a caregiver, financial exploitation and/or self–neglect. If you have a Protective Services concern, call the Massachusetts-based Elder Abuse Hotline (centralized intake) at 1-800-922-2275 or visit www.ocesma.org for more information.