Family violence and COVID‐19: Increased vulnerability and reduced options for support
Kim Usher; Navjot Bhullar; Joanne Durkin (et al.)
Published: April 2020
Journal: International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
The fear and uncertainty associated with pandemics provide an enabling environment that may exacerbate or spark diverse forms of violence. Actions such as social distancing, sheltering in place, restricted travel, and closures of key community resources are likely to dramatically increase the risk of family violence. Governments and policymakers must create awareness about an increased risk of violence during pandemics and highlight the need for people to keep in touch with each other (while observing precautionary measures) and the great importance of reporting any concerns of abuse. It is important to remember that maintaining social connectedness is an important strategy during times of isolation, even more so with family or friends you suspect may be at risk of family violence. In addition, information about services available locally (e.g. hotlines, tele‐health, respite services, shelters, rape crisis centres, and counselling) must be made known to the general public through a range of sources, including social media, the mainstream media, and health facilities. Mental health professionals can support people by providing first‐line psychological support, including listening empathetically and without judgment, enquiring about needs and concerns, validating peoples’ experiences and feelings, enhancing safety, and connecting people to relevant support services.