During this time of increased social isolation it is likely domestic and family violence will increase across our community. This includes physical and non-physical violence. We know this because of reports coming out of other countries who are already further down the path of Covid-19. We also know that isolation is a tool used by people who use violence and controlling behaviours within their relationships.
Here at DVCS we acknowledge that not everyone wants to leave an abusive or controlling relationship, and we note that is particularly the case during this time. DVCS remains available 24/7 to support you via our crisis intervention line on 62 800 900 or via our website at dvcs.org.au. To help support our community, this month we are sharing tips on how to stay safe while in your home.
We have created an Easy English version of the information below. You can download and print that document here: Ways to increase safety during Covid-19 (EE).
- Keep your mobile phone charged as much as possible.
- Keep a go bag accessible. It doesn’t have to be in a suitcase. A garbage bag or backpack is just as good. It only need contain one change of clothes and your important documents. Just remember where it is and to take it with you if you do decide to leave.
- Create speed dials on your phone. This might include DVCS’ number or a trusted friend or family member. You can even use pseudonyms to enhance your safety.
- When parking your car, try to back it in. A backed in car means it is easier to drive out in an emergency. Remember to keep your fuel tank as full as possible.
- Ensure all your devices have a pin or password, that only you know.
- Keep your curtains closed at night time. Not only does this keep you warm in winter, but helps to keep prying eyes out.
- Remember to call 000 in an emergency. Alternatively you can call the Police Attendance Line on 131 444.
- Always keep cash on you. While we appreciate most businesses prefer cards at this time, keeping cash can ensure you have some currency in the event there is a power outage.
- If you are worried about someone getting in, remember to keep your windows and doors locked.
- Do you need an additional mobile phone? If your phone is compromised, you might wish to get a second mobile which you keep hidden. You can use this to communicate with support services or lawyers.
- Do you need a safe word? This can be shared with family or friends and used when you are in danger.
- Keep a recent photo of your children and partner on your phone.
- Know where your car and house keys are at all times. Try to keep your car keys in the same room with you.
- Keep your ID on you, at least keep a photo of it on your phone. Try to keep other important documents on your too, or in your go bag.
During a physical assault:
- If an argument or violence starts, please try to stay in a room that has a clear exit to the outside world. This might be a front door or a back door, but make sure you have access to the street from your back yard.
- If you do find yourself being physically assaulted, try to make yourself a small target. Curl up in a ball, in a corner if possible. Protect your face and wrap your arms around the side of your head, wrapping your fingers together on top of your head.
- Try to avoid wearing scarves or long necklaces. They can become a hazard in physical assaults.
- If you have concerns for your pet due to threats or actual harm being made by your partner, please seek out alternate accommodation for them. This could be at a friend or family member’s home.
- Talk to children about keeping safe during any arguments or assaults happening at home. They should be taught to seek safety, rather than protecting you. This might be hiding under the bed or in a wardrobe, or running to the neighbours house.
- Keep knives and scissors away. Get rid of knife blocks and keep them in drawers instead.
- Avoid having arguments in kitchens, bathrooms and garages. These tend to be the most unsafe places in our home. Any other room with weapons is also considered unsafe.
- Make a plan with your children about their safety. Should you have a safe word with them, should they hide or go to a neighbours house in the event something happens at home?
- Teach your children how to call 000 or to get help if you aren’t able to.
Maintaining social connections:
- Move your outside bins during daylight hours. Try and do it so you can maintain contact with your neighbours – ensuring you adhere to social distancing.
- Know that you can call DVCS at any time, or access information via our website. There is plenty of helpful information and a confident contact form.
- Clear your mailbox each day, during daylight hours or when people are coming and going. This helps maintain contact with your neighbours – ensuring you adhere to social distancing.
- Stay in touch with family and friends. Text messages, social media, telephone calls and other video conferencing is all important at this time. Reach out to people you are worried about.
- Remember to practice self-care. That will look different for everyone. Some ideas include taking a bath or shower, reading a book, going for a walk or doing a puzzle.
- Know that you can also call a number of mental health helplines, including Lifeline on 13 11 14. Children should be encouraged to contact Kids Helpline or Headspace.
- Keep a diary or a journal, but remember to keep it hidden safely. It might be a paper copy, or an electronic one. It doesn’t have to be detailed, just enough to jog your memory about particular incidents or as a way to help debrief each day.
To access our crisis intervention services call our 24/7 crisis telephone line 02 6280 0900. If it isn’t urgent another contact option is to email firstname.lastname@example.org or SMS us on 0421 268 492; this email and SMS line are only monitored during business hours. If you live outside the ACT please call 1800RESPECT.
We do not make any sound recordings of our conversations. You do not need to give us your name, but if you do we make notes that we spoke to you. If you are unsure, please let us know at the start of the call and we can tell you about our confidentiality policy.