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AN INSIGHTFUL NOTE ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AMIDST COVID 19

by The Welthi Bureau, June 23rd, 2020

an insightful note on domestic violence amidst covid 19
 Image used for representational purpose only

Domestic violence has always been an uncomfortable topic to discuss, home and family are supposed to be safe havens for us and when that very place becomes a risk to physical and emotional health, one feels devastated! Despite laws and social norms against domestic violence, it continues unabated in communities across the world and common victims are the weaker elements in the dyads - women and children. With almost 20% to 50% rise in reported cases of domestic violence across various parts of globe, the lockdown has once again uncovered the ugly face of humanity.

 

Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Consultant, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Gurugram, said, “Violence is a behavioral outcome of a psycho-biological state that is facing an onslaught of stress chemicals. In simpler words, when a biologically vulnerable individual (called violent temperament) faces a stressful situation, he and/or less often she (men are more prone to violence towards others and self) act on their flight or fight impulse by choosing the fight impulse. This fight impulse, which is generally awakened to escape a threatening situation, causes violent reaction without their being a direct threat to the perpetrator at all.”

 

Aggression is a response to negative emotions of fear and anger. Due to genetic and environmental conditioning, vulnerable individuals have precarious ability to handle even minor stress, causing frustration and lashing out at the least threatening element in immediate environment. This is observed as people breaking items in their immediate environment releasing their pent up frustration over issues as small as not getting breakfast on time or children playing loudly. To some, it amounts to a sense of relief, but some other may even get a sense of pleasure. For the second type, aggression then becomes like an addiction, which is the most dangerous component of human violence response and requires definitive psychiatric intervention.

 

In the COVID 19 world, the environment is extremely stressful due to the various perceived negative outcomes including fear of infection, financial burden and inadequacy of resources. Smaller spaces leading to overcrowding, sense of being restricted, inability to do what one likes to do, increase in alcohol/drug abuse followed by withdrawal effects due to non-availability of the intoxicant, lack of constructive work or being over whelmed by a different way of doing work are all those factors which need a good amount of mental balance for stress coping. Those who are already mentally unstable and are unable to cope, end up lashing out at the weaker individual in the vicinity with the resultant increase in violence with in the homes and families.

 

The victims are often unable to find a way out for themselves, they have to stay under the same roof due to socio-cultural or economic reasons, or have never been able to see a way out of the situation and therefore suffer from a learned helplessness, thereby letting the cycle continue. The physical and psychological scars such situations leave do not disappear even when the situation stabilizes causing the victim to continue to take the beating while the perpetrator doesn’t learn a way to stop.

 

What can those susceptible to domestic violence do?

 

For Victims of domestic violence:

 

If you are staying with an individual who has a volatile temperament and you have never sought professional help, it’s time you do. If you can’t access professional help immediately, make provisions to safeguard yourself and your children till you can.

Always report a case of violence, to family, friends and authorities. Being silent will not change anything.

 

While staying with the perpetrator of violence-

 

  1. Define clear physical boundaries, the more you come in the way of each other, the more likely it is for you to be at the receiving end of a violent lashing.
  2. Define roles, a clarity about who does what and when can help reduce expectations and frustration.
  3. Define priorities, while in lockdown, everything is not available at fingertips. Therefore, keep simpler routines like simpler meals, simpler chores about washing and cleaning, and simpler goals for children’s education and well-being.
  4. Take care of your own mental health, the more stressed you feel, the less likely you will be to handle minor provocations. Do something regularly to relax be it exercise, reading , music or talking to someone you trust.
  5. If possible, communicate with the abuser in a neutral manner when situation is in control, many instances of violence occur as a result of loss of control and abusers are able to realize their mistake even though they may not acknowledge it. If one is able to identify triggers without blaming, one may be able to find a way to avoid them to have a peaceful co-existence until a more permanent solution is available.

 

For Perpetrators of domestic violence:

 

If you are the violent partner, you may have the tendency to justify your behavior by blaming the victim for provoking you. This is your reaction to the guilt because you realize your reactions are irrational but you do not know how to manage it.

  1. Seek professional help, it’s never too late. A mental health professional is not there to judge or criticize you but to help you so that both the perpetrator and victim can be helped.
  2. You may feel calmer with a drink or two but alcohol and drugs increase impulsive behaviour, they are not the solution to your problem. So avoid alcohol and drugs.
  3. You may have a tendency to beat yourself after having caused harm to others. Self-harm is neither the redemption you are seeking for your violent behaviour, nor the solution to your violent streak. The only way to stop yourself from committing violence is to tell yourself to stop.
  4. Uncontrolled aggression and rage are mediated by neuro chemical and psychotropic medicines help balance those chemicals. You may be able to justify the cause of your reaction, but nothing justifies the outcome. So take help.
  5. Understand that its your inability to handle stress that is causing the problem, not the stress itself. There is no point trying to tell others to not cause stress to you because stress is more a function of individual perception rather than environmental factors, instead try to learn to cope with stress.

The negative emotions of anger and frustration do not help either the one having them not those suffering because of them. Talking about them is first step in dealing with the issue. Talk about domestic violence, if you don’t feel safe in your home, it’s not your home!

 

Book Appointment: Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Consultant, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Gurugram


 Disclaimer: Welthi.com does not guarantee any specific results as a result of the procedures mentioned here, and the results may vary from person to person. Read more
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