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Quarantined With An Abuser? Here Are Some Tips For Staying Safe

3 Min Read
Health

As people are making sacrifices to shelter in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, there are hidden costs that we may not have realized. Domestic and sexual violence as well as child abuse, all thrive in sectors of silence. More often than not, the abuse happens at the hands of someone the victim knows, usually a caregiver or a member of their household. At a time when people are required to stay at home, they may be at an additional risk of violence while trying to keep safe from a virus. Police departments across the country are reporting an uptick in domestic violence calls, and that is only the incidents that are being reported. We have no way of knowing the full extent of this problem.

Stressors such as substance use disorders and financial strain are two of the primary underpinnings of violence, and both are rising by the minute in our country as we reach unemployment benchmarks we haven't seen since the Great Depression. Admissions to substance treatment facilities are skyrocketing, and while most of our economy is seeing a serious downturn, sales of alcohol are soaring. On top of that, as the fear around the virus began to spread in early 2020, toilet paper wasn't the only thing flying off the shelves — so were guns. States reported gun sales skyrocketed amid fears of civil unrest and governmental orders.

At a time when people are required to stay at home, they may be at unintended risk of violence while trying to keep safe from a virus.

Economic stressors, a stay-at-home order, more alcohol in the home, and additional access to guns are the exact kindling required for a flurry of interpersonal violence. What can we do to help? First and foremost, we must get the word out to all potential victims that help is still available. Hotlines are still being answered 24/7, and in many instances, agencies have also established texting hotlines and resources. While a shelter may not be desired by those attempting to leave a dangerous home right now, many domestic violence agencies are using hotels across the country to offer safe respite for anyone in danger. ChildLine [CJ1] calls are still being answered, and when necessary, workers are still going into homes for safety and security checks if child abuse is suspected and/or reported.

Second, check in on those whom you may be concerned about, and discreetly let them know you are there if they need anything. Due to being under the same roof, your loved one may not be able to speak freely for fear that the abuser can hear. Establish a code word that is known only between you and the victim. That way, if you get that word via text from that person or it's used when you call, you know that help is needed. Pre-establish what that help looks like. Does the person want you to call and create an interruption, or do you need to call 911?

Encourage the person to change the passwords on accounts and technology, though this could be risky if the offender is monitoring the person's phone and apps. If a victim goes to the National Domestic Violence Hotline webpage, there is a chat line feature that will immediately delete the messages off the phone as soon as the victim ends the conversation. This could give an opportunity for the victim to access resources, make a quick safety plan, or just get some needed guidance to help them get through the hour, day, or week.

Economic stressors, a stay-at-home order, more alcohol in the home, and additional access to guns are the exact kindling required for a flurry of interpersonal violence.

One of the most important things a victim can have is resources, be that a friend, neighbor, or family member. Encourage the person to make a safety plan, connect them to resources that can individualize a safety plan to the circumstances, listen to the victim, and respect their wishes. Your loved ones know the offender better than anyone else, and by doing something against their wishes, you may put them in additional harm. Reassure them that services such as counseling, food pantries, shelter options, transportation assistance, and restraining or protective orders are all still accessible in every town in America. Gently guide them while planting the seeds of life-saving resources.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-787-3224 . Visit www.thehotline.org for texting and other resources.
3 min read
Culture

Please Don't Forget to Say Thank You

"More grapes, please," my daughter asked, as she continued to color her Peppa Pig drawing at the kitchen table.

"What do you say?" I asked her, as I was about to hand her the bowl.

"More grapes?"

I shook my head.

"Please?"

I stood there.

"I want green grapes instead of red grapes?"

I shook my head again. I handed her the bowl of green grapes. "Thank you. Please don't forget to say thank you."

"Thank you, Momma!"

Here's the question at hand: Do we have to retrain our leaders to say thank you like I am training my children?

Many of us are busy training our young children on manners on the other side of the Zoom camera during this pandemic. Reminding them to say please, excuse me, I tried it and it's not my favorite, I am sorry, and thank you. And yet somehow simple manners continue to be undervalued and underappreciated in our workplaces. Because who has time to say thank you?

"Call me. This needs to be completed in the next hour."

"They didn't like the deck. Needs to be redone."

"When are you planning on sending the proposal?"

"Did you see the questions he asked? Where are the responses?"

"Needs to be done by Monday."

Let me take a look. I didn't see a please. No please. Let me re-read it again. Nope, no thank you either. Sure, I'll get to that right away. Oh yes, you're welcome.

Organizations are under enormous pressure in this pandemic. Therefore, leaders are under enormous pressure. Business models collapsing, budget cuts, layoffs, or scrapping plans… Companies are trying to pivot as quickly as possible—afraid of extinction. With employees and leaders everywhere teaching and parenting at home, taking care of elderly parents, or maybe even living alone with little social interaction, more and more of us are dealing with all forms of grief, including losing loved ones to COVID-19.

So we could argue we just don't have time to say thank you; we don't have time to express gratitude. There's too much happening in the world to be grateful for anything. We are all living day to day, the pendulum for us swinging between surviving and thriving. But if we don't have the time to be grateful now, to show gratitude and thanks as we live through one of the most cataclysmic events in recent human history, when will we ever be thankful?

If you don't think you have to say thank you; if you don't think they deserve a thank you (it's their job, it's what they get paid to do); or if you think, "Why should I say thank you, no one ever thanks me for anything?" It's time to remember that while we might be living through one of the worst recessions of our lifetimes, the market will turn again. Jobs will open up, and those who don't feel recognized or valued will be the first to go. Those who don't feel appreciated and respected will make the easy decision to work for leaders who show gratitude.

But if we don't have the time to be grateful now, to show gratitude and thanks as we live through one of the most cataclysmic events in recent human history, when will we ever be thankful?

Here's the question at hand: Do we have to retrain our leaders to say thank you like I am training my children? Remind them with flashcards? Bribe them with a cookie? Tell them how I proud I am of them when they say those two magical words?

Showing gratitude isn't that difficult. You can send a thoughtful email or a text, send a handwritten card, send something small as a gesture of thank you, or just tell them. Call them and tell them how thankful you are for them and for their contributions. Just say thank you.

A coworker recently mailed me a thank you card, saying how much she appreciated me. It was one of the nicest things anyone from work has sent me during this pandemic. It was another reminder for me of how much we underestimate the power of a thank you card.

Apparently, quarantine gratitude journals are all the rage right now. So it's great if you have a beautiful, leather-bound gratitude journal. You can write down all of the people and the things that you are thankful for in your life. Apparently, it helps you sleep better, helps you stay grounded, and makes you in general happier. Just don't forget to take a moment to stop writing in that journal, and to show thanks and gratitude to those you are working with every single day.