Are you isolated with an abusive partner during COVID-19, and fear for your safety?
Our offices are closed, but we are still here to help you.
Remember: Shelters like Iris Kirby House and food banks are deemed an essential service, so they remain open during COVID-19 in NL.
Other support organizations, like our ten Violence Prevention NL Offices, are working remotely in light of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. We may not be physically present, but we are here to help you in any way we can; advice, support, a caring ear to listen, coordination of support, providing information… Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.
You deserve to live a happy, healthy, and safe life, free from the fear of violence.
How can I mitigate the severity of abuse, while I’m isolated with my abuser during COVID-19?
Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you are not mentally ready to leave your relationship. While we encourage you do what is best for your safety and wellbeing, we understand that certain situations are much harder to leave, especially instances where children, financial insecurity, aging, and disabilities or disorders are involved; add to that, a pandemic.
Trigger Warning: Please note that some of these warnings may be a trigger to a survivor’s past, but it is important to have these very practical tips, to mitigate the severity of abuse.Read more.
At the very least, there are ways in which you can protect yourself and make future plans, to reduce the negative consequences of your partner’s abuse during this time.
- Don’t be afraid to call 9-1-1 if you need to.
- Do not lose sight of maintaining your mental health and wellness during this time… If any of these options are possible: Stretch every couple of hours, take a walk around the block once a day, YouTube exercise videos, read a book about wellness or something positive, try to get an appropriate amount of sleep, maintain acts of hygiene and medication routines, or make sure to communicate with one person outside of your household a day…these acts can do a world of good for your mental health.
- Keep your health and wellness practices on track, without overcomplicating things! Check out this Wellness Worksheet that the Chicago Torture Justice Centre recently provided the public. It’ll give you an idea of how you are handling your situation over time, and the trends in your feelings/routines.
- Keep open lines of communication with your loved ones, in any way possible. Try to build up the courage to tell atleast one other person about what you are currently going through so they can be on alert.
- Avoid wearing items like scarves or necklaces; things that your partner could use to potentially strangle you.
- Avoid wearing your hair in a ponytail because it’s easier for your partner to grab.
- Organizations such as the St. John’s Women’s Centre, CHANNAL, Iris Kirby House, and the Provincial Government offer a variety of crisis and emergency counselling sessions over the phone. Learn more about these kinds of organizations by clicking here.
- If you have free time and have access to the Internet, use the pandemic as time to prepare your exit strategy, and execute the plan when social distancing measures lighten up. Check out our General Directory of Support Services here, or our COVID-19 Directory of Support Services here. Consider using this time for searching for a more enjoyable or higher paying job, looking into going back to school, new living arrangements, taking free personal or professional development courses, and building yourself up to be the best you can be, as an individual. You define what your best is.
- Create a safety plan, for if you do end up facing the worst case scenario. The RNC has created a helpful Safety Plan template you can utilize. If you’re looking for something online/interactive, check out this Interactive Safety Plan Guide from LoveIsRespect.Org!
- If you have a disability, health condition, and/or require assistive mobility devices, reach out to one of these organizations. Create an emergency sub-plan, to ensure you aren’t without your aids or necessary health devices, should you have to flee from abuse during COVID-19.
- Are you experiencing domestic violence and have children? Learn about what local resources are available during COVID-19, as well as FamilyCourtAndBeyond.CA for additional safety planning tips and learn about family law/family court.
- Are you afraid of an abuser coming to your home, knowing that you are alone more often during COVID-19? The RNC‘s Lock Exchange Program is a collaboration with the RNC and the Canadian Federation of University Women to install replacement locks for women who are in need of having door locks replaced due to fear of intimate partner violence.
- Part of the LGBTQ2S+ Community and experiencing abuse in NL? Check out these local LGBTQ2S+ supports during COVID-19.
- If you’re New to Canada or Indigenous and experiencing domestic abuse in NL, reach out to these culturally-specific supports during COVID-19.
- Please note that RNC and Iris Kirby House’s Pet Safekeeping Program is halted during COVID-19.
- If possible, find somewhere to write down a few emergency phone numbers that you may need to call, if you end up in a worst case scenario. If you end up in a situation where you need to contact those supports, you won’t have to worry about searching for the information, while in distress.
- Always keep your phone on you. Do not give your abuser an opportunity to take and withhold your phone, or try to go through the contents of your phone.
- If you are a female and your abuser withholds your phone or the Internet from you, know that Iris Kirby House and RNC’s Intimate Partner Violence Unit has a program that provides cell phones to women in abusive situations, looking to gain independence.
- Be sure to delete your browser history, call logs, and any messages you’ve sent regarding the abuse. If you can, use your browser in incognito mode. Tech savvy abusers may use children’s monitoring systems so if you think this is something your abuser would be capable of, it never hurts to have a secret burner phone, for emergency purposes.
- If your partner is overbearing in an abusive way, use any opportunity to reach out for help; at the grocery store, speak to your pharmacist, fake sick to book a doctor’s appointment on the phone, any third-party in a professional setting will help you, if you really need to get out of a dangerous situation.
- If you have ongoing medical prescriptions (Birth control, anti-depressants, etc), make sure you have enough prescription refills from your doctor and try to leave a reminder note for yourself to refill, one month before you run out of medication.
- Do you have a good relationship with your neighbour? If possible, tell them as much as you’re comfortable telling them and simply ask them to keep an eye out, just in case. You don’t need to go into detail, you just need to know they’re aware of the overall situation.
- Have a safe word/phrase with the loved one you confided in, and create a plan as to how they react when you say that safety code. The safety code should be something ambiguous enough that an abusive partner wouldn’t pick up on, but would prompt your loved one to either reach out to authorities, send a taxi for you to make an escape, or whatever you think is the best response to the code you both established.
- Find somewhere on your property to hide a bag of clothes, personal protective equipment (PPE), any essential items, medication, and IDs. If possible, try to have some cash as well. Store it somewhere your abuser wouldn’t find it.
- Try to keep a hidden stash of PPE equipment on you; either in your car, or hidden somewhere on the property that your abuser wouldn’t find it. Many abusers withhold PPE to further their isolation efforts.
- If possible, pack an additional bag of clothing with a few essentials and arrange to drop it off on your friend’s curb (or vice versa) so you have some items to rely on, if you have to run out of the house before you can grab your emergency bag.
We want you to be prepared and empowered as possible, considering your situation at home, and the situation ongoing, world-wide. We are here for you. If you have any questions or want to gain advice about your safety strategies, please contact us.