My Choices Foundation

Helping Abuse Survivors During Social Distancing and COVID19

While most of India is observing a lockdown to prevent COVID-19, what about the victims of abuse locked inside the house with their perpetrator? What must they be going through?

Victims of domestic abuse are at bigger risk of isolation and abuse while stuck at home during curfew and lockdowns. Here are 8 things you can do to help.

While most of India is observing a lockdown to prevent COVID-19, I have also been cooped up inside my house with my partner all day. We managed to buy some groceries, milk beforehand ensuring that we were able to practice isolation and social distancing. We also made some treats for ourselves, created workspaces in different rooms of the house and kept going.

Amongst all this, an inevitable thought kept gnawing at me: what about the victims of abuse locked inside the house with their perpetrator? What must they be going through? For most women and children facing abuse at home, their work or school is an escape from abuse and abuser. It is a place safer than home, where they do not have to face their abuser. Or just a place where they get to be themselves.

Being able to go to an office is a welcome change for at least one in three women facing abuse. It is partial relief from an abusive partner and such lockdowns force them to be victims 24 hours a day.

Let us be allies!

We as a country pulled our socks up to prevent Corona. Similarly, as compassionate people, allies and bystanders it is imperative that we support victims of violence during these difficult times.

I am assuming anyone who is reading this is doing so on their smartphones or on their laptop. Let us begin by identifying our privilege in resources and education that is enabling us to communicate this way. We should use the resources and privilege to choose to help someone in need.

You can start by checking on your immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues or neighbours, be it children or women. Some people might have already shared their story of abuse with you. Or some you might know of and some you really have to look at the signs carefully.

We all know of victims of abuse in our circle who have been tolerating it for years, for various reasons. Practising isolation with family while being in an abusive relationship is a nightmare.

If you would like to help, keep an eye out for such people in your lives. And here are a few things you can for your neighbours, friends or even family members.

How can you help someone who is a victim of abuse?

First of all, do not blame them for not taking action before. Most victims have to deal with a lot of stigma, social and financial situations to come out of abuse. Keep aside the thought that “if they would have acted before, they would not have been in this situation.”

Most importantly, do not think of abusive behaviour in your vicinity as a “family issue” or “not my problem.” Remember that people do not choose to be victims, they happen to be.

Help them be survivors.

This is a list of phone numbers to call in case of emergency

*Name changed to protect the identity of a young girl.

Usha Kiran T

Usha Kiran is the Communication Manager and Program Officer at My Choices Foundation. Usha is a dreamer of change - a world free from violence and equal opportunities for all. Her professional and academic interests include gender, patriarchy, identity-based violence, and laws related to women and children.

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