One of the recommended coping strategies during the Covid quarantine is to look for what one is grateful for. When the Shelter in Place order took place in California, I immediately felt tremendous gratitude that this pandemic occurred at this phase of my life and not when I was growing up. My childhood home was my version of hell on earth- fraught with neglect and daily physical and emotional abuse that would go on for hours on end. I loved going to school, even though I wasn’t a particularly strong student, for having been so preoccupied with what was going on at home. To me, school represented six glorious parent free hours. I was never the kid who played hooky. And vacations were often rough because they meant multiple consecutive days with my parents. So, the thought of being stuck at home with them for weeks or months on end is a horrifying one. I am so grateful that isn’t my reality, but unfortunately, that is the reality for many children.
Sadly, with the COVID crisis, countless children will endure their hell on earth at home with their abusers. Further, the abuse they suffer is likely to be even more frequent and perhaps more intense than usual because of the increased time exposed to their abusers in a given day and also the high trigger-ability abusers will have during this time due to stress. There are so many sources of stress in this situation: watching the news, personal and collective financial impact, trying (and failing) to get the things one needs at the grocery store, homeschooling while trying to keep up with one’s job, if lucky enough to even still have it, and much more. Stress can lead us all to “snapping,” and when abusers snap, things get ugly. This will be an unimaginably difficult situation for these children.
This is why, when this quarantine concludes, it is so critically important for those who interact with kids- teachers, day care providers, coaches, etc.- pay extra special attention to children’s behavior because I believethe signs of abuse may also be more amplified and apparent after such a long stint with their abusers. Of course please also report any suspected child abuse that you may encounter in the meantime as well.
The Mayo Clinic identifies the following signs that a child is being abused:
Please report any suspected abuse to the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-442-4918.