We are living in extraordinary times. The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone but lockdown has been harder for some than others. The essential message has been Stay at home, Stay safe.
But if home doesn’t feel safe?
Here are the experiences of 3 unhappy people we know of. The crisis has made them feel especially vulnerable.
Sandra… Moved in with her brother when her husband died. The house is big enough and, as they’re both retired, it made sense to pool their resources. But he controls everything, making all the household decisions and bullying her into handing over her pension. Now, as they’re both over 70, they’ve been self-isolating and it’s become intolerable. Sandra isn’t allowed any contact with others at all, while he chooses what they watch on TV and what they eat when he does the online shop. If she objects or makes a suggestion, he gets angry and she’s frightened.
Jackie… Hasn’t had a job since having the children. Her husband says she’s useless and no-one would ever employ her. She likes being at home while he’s out at work though; it’s a respite from his constant belittling and put-downs. Now he’s struggling to work from home and blaming her. Why can’t she keep the children out of his way? Why can’t she keep them quiet? He tells her over and over how incompetent she is, and although the children haven’t heard him, she’s permanently tense and they sense that.
Matt’s… Partner, Jason, hurts him regularly, punching and kicking, often when he’s been drinking. Sometimes it happens when Matt doesn’t feel like sex, sometimes when he’s brought the ‘wrong thing’ back from the supermarket, sometimes just because, Jason says, ‘he feels like it’; Matt should ‘fight back and not be such a wimp’. It’s been worse in lockdown and Matt can’t hide the bruises now. It took a while for his family to accept his relationship and he can’t admit he’s unhappy.
3 unhappy people, but they don’t have to ‘sit it out’. Help is available.
Local domestic abuse outreach services and Citizens Advice offer practical help to those who feel unsafe, and, if necessary, a place of refuge. If home doesn’t feel safe for you or someone you know, Contact Us Here (if that is difficult, all Boots pharmacies have a ‘safe space’ to phone). Or call East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services (ESDAS) on 01737 771350 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). If you feel in immediate danger, always dial 999.
* Names changed to protect client confidentiality.