October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and, unfortunately, this topic is more pressing than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elyssa Nager is a Colorado-based mom and author of a new book,  Crushing Fleas: A Step-by-Step Guide to Reclaiming Peace, Self-Love and the Amazing You After an Emotionally Abusive Relationship. We spoke to Elyssa about her new book, about the effects of shutdowns on victims of domestic violence and more.

How severely has COVID worsened the impact of domestic violence on women and families?
Domestic Violence is up 15 to 30% worldwide due to COVID 19 and associated lockdowns. I wrote for the Colorado Sun Times on this topic:

https://coloradosun.com/2020/05/28/coronavirus-domestic-violence-abuse-opinion/

I tell people: Amid an epidemic within a pandemic, choose you. Leave victimhood behind.

Why has COVID worsened this situation so drakatically?
Families are home—victims are unable to access help because their abusers are at home 24/7.

What are some signs that someone is at risk of becoming the victim of domestic violence or emotional abuse?
If something feels wrong, it often is wrong. Perpetrators of emotional abuse are very good at making the victim feel like the “crazy” one. Lying is just part of their repertoire. So is defensiveness. If your partner reacts violently when you approach them to talk about a subject like finances, or the children you most likely have a problem on your hands. Controlling money or children or keeping you from friends and family are huge warning signs.

Are there examples of domestic violence that many women may not realize are DV?
Abuse comes in so many forms. Physical abuse is easier to identify because abusers leave a physical mark, but the emotional side of abuse is proven to be much more difficult to recover from. Usually, when a person is in an abusive relationship they are experiencing many forms of abuse such as child alienation, verbal abuse, financial abuse, isolation, physical threats, etc. Emotional abusers can escalate to physical violence in some cases. In other cases, abusers are too “smart” to hit their victims because they know this is one of the only ways the victim can validate that abuse is occurring.

What are some ways to get help, safely, if you are suffering?
Reach out to family and friends, call the Domestic Violence helpline and they can help you develop a plan to leave. The most important thing is to stay connected with those around you. Reach out. 

What is the most common myth or misconception you see about this topic?
That it doesn’t exist and/or verbal abuse is somehow OK. Partners argue, yes. That’s normal. Abuse is an entirely different ball game. Education is critical and the laws need to change to support victims of domestic violence in any form.

 

If you need help, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800 799 SAFE.

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