Domestic violence during the Pandemic – The private response to stress

We don’t need anything or anyone, If I lay here, if I just lay here; Would you lie with me and just forget the world? Snow Patrol
The coronavirus has changed almost everything in America. Especially the rate of employment. Unemployment claims across the country are through the roof and it will be weeks before money is available to those most in need. The stress of this has increased calls for domestic violence in Massachusetts and across the country. Domestic violence stems from one intimate partner using coercion and control to dominate his spouse usually was a result of deep-felt anxiety and fear of abandonment. Music sometimes resonate with social issues. The lyrics from “Chasing Cars” written by Snow Patrol reflect the expectation seen in dysfunctional systems that demand loyalty often at the expense of extended family relationships. These lyrics may sound romantic but they illustrate the desire to isolate a partner to the extent that nothing in the world matters projecting an air of being marginalized and seeking comfort in a partner who shares a common detachment. Truthfully, most people need their families, friends, and work relationships making the mournful request in the song somewhat irresponsible yet compelling for many who may be so inclined. Lyrics by Petula Clark written by Tony Clark in 1964. Music often takes on the poetic plight of the emotionally imprisoned. It reflects social mores and falsely depicts life without hope. Helplessness and wishful thinking as the message of hope. “Don’t hang around and let your problems show, Forget all your troubles and forget all your cares and go downtown; linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty, How can you lose”? The Fresno sheriff’s department filed 77 percent more domestic violence reports two weeks ago than three weeks ago. The Seattle Police Department received 614 calls in the last two weeks — 22 percent more than average rate. Domestic violence prevention organizations in Boston warn of an increase in cases according to the Boston Globe on April 3. Domestic violence is a private matter that many people do not want the police to know about. But that is the outdated myth. In keeping DV a private matter domestic partners are victimized on average over 7 times before police are summoned. DV gets worse and more pervasive when times get tough. Now as the country is shut down because of mandatory social distancing, intimate partners are frightened that one wrong comment, or a late dinner, of the wrong glance at a cashier may result in the countdown to terminal violence. Helpless again.As cops, we must see it and call it out. Arrest is mandatory whenever there is evidence of physical violence. Among the highest red flag risks is the victims belief that she will one day be killed by her spouse. It is usually an ominous premonition. Law enforcement can plant the seed to recovery by encouraging a viable “safety plan” and leaving the victim a dead cell phone that can allow a 911 call when needed. This may be done in the aftermath of the crisis. If you know of someone in a dangerous interpersonal marriage or relationship talk to them about making a safety plan. They may need a friend or family member one night as a matter of life and death. They should not count on orders of protection because these are often inadequate and ignored.
At times of stress, families struggle to maintain the emotional homeostasis that keeps them safe. The normal roles and hierarchy within a family system may erode. Michael Sefton 2020

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