As we face into a period of major restrictions and social isolation, I feel it is important and timely to discuss creating a safety plan during Covid-19 for parents experiencing child to parent violence (CPV). To begin with, let’s look at what the statistics and research tell us about how natural disasters can impact upon what happens in families and behind closed doors.
Research and Statistics
Thanks to a large body of research, we now understand that natural disasters can be held responsible for a surge in incidents of domestic violence. What is more, the research further tells us, this is an area often overlooked in emergency planning. In one such paper written for the ‘Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience’, authors find that there is a causational relationship between natural disasters and increased incidents of domestic violence. While these findings are based on natural disasters such as earthquakes, bush fires and hurricanes, it is likely that the current pandemic we face will see similar results.
Findings to support this hypothesis come from China who, further along in their Covid-19 journey suggest; isolation has led to neglect of the vulnerable, abandoned babies and increases in domestic violence and fear and anxiety. Allegedly, reports of domestic violence have doubled in some areas of China since the country went into the isolation phase. Also, anecdotally, free time with restrictions on leaving the home have led to higher alcohol consumption and family violence becoming more prevalent.
In terms of statistics and research, CPV is relatively new, therefore and unfortunately, we do not have statistics on the topic. However, we can assume that where we see an increase in domestic violence, we would also expect the same trajectory for CPV.
If you are experiencing child to parent violence you may or may not have already devised a safety plan. If you have created one, you may find it beneficial to revise it now that we are facing restrictions.
A safety plan is exactly what it says on the tin: a plan to keep you safe and/or get you out safely. As a parent/carer your safety plan might look slightly different to a safety plan for a survivor of domestic violence, but ultimately the goal is the same.
I will detail two plans here. The first is what I call the ‘staying’ plan, which outlines precautionary and safeguarding measures you can take to prepare and protect yourself while living with CPV. The second details a plan for if you are attacked and in immediate danger.
- Keep a phone in a room that locks from the inside and store all emergency numbers on it
- Carry a mobile phone on your person
- Decide and plan where you will go if you do leave home and prepare an excuse to leave if you feel threatened
- Warn family or friends that you may need help
- Keep a handbag/overnight bag with money, important phone numbers and items in a place where you can grab it if you need to leave in a hurry.
If you are attacked and are in immediate danger
- Call the Gardaí 999/112 when you can.
- Get out, if you can.
- If you cannot get out, avoid going into places like the kitchen and garage where there may be potential weapons.
- Avoid rooms with small areas like closets or crawlspaces where you can be trapped. Try to stay away from rooms without windows.
- Try to alert your friends, family, or a neighbour that you’re in trouble and need help.
If you need support during this time, or at any time, Parentline 1800 927 277 are open Monday – Thursday 10am – 9.30pm and Friday 10am – 4.30pm. As always, please contact me for details on how the Non Violent Resistance (NVR) Intervention can help if you are dealing with CPV. Stay safe.