If you feel unsafe or threatened at home during COVID-19, Safer Community can help
The evolving COVID-19 situation is making life more challenging for everyone, with our normal routines, support networks and hobbies disrupted or unavailable. The social distancing restrictions currently in place are also making it much harder for people to access support services.
Unfortunately, research shows that cases of family violence often increase during and after times of emergency or national crisis, such as bushfires or floods. So it is likely that more people may be exposed to, or experience, family violence during this difficult time, especially as we don’t know how long the COVID-19 crisis will last.
Why family violence increases during times of crisis
The Lookout, which provides information and resources to help professionals respond to family violence, published research showing that family violence increased following Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires. This was because people tend to revert to strict gender norms during times of natural disaster and uncertainty. Men act as the ‘protectors’ and decision-makers, and women are the ‘carers’. These strict gender norms reduce women’s autonomy and can put them and their children at risk.
Women’s experiences of violence also tend to be dismissed or excused more often during times of disaster or emergency, with excuses like ‘He is just stressed’ used to justify violent behaviour.
The Lookout also highlighted other contributing factors that can increase the risk of family violence and are likely to be relevant in the COVID-19 situation:
- increased financial, employment and housing insecurity
- increased and sustained periods of time that families are together due to quarantine
- reduced ability for victim/survivors to flee family violence
- reduced access to support if schools and community services are closed for containment reasons.
How Safer Community can help
If you feel unsafe in your home, or the COVID-19 restrictions mean that your personal situation could become dangerous or unsustainable, Safer Community is here to support you, including to assist you with a safety plan if appropriate.
Safer Community is Deakin’s central point of contact for reports of family violence and sexual harm, and we also respond to reports of concerning behaviour. This includes anything that makes you feel threatened or unsafe, makes you worried that someone may harm themselves or someone else, offends you or just doesn’t feel quite right.
Our trained professionals are experienced in dealing with this kind of trauma – and it doesn’t matter if it’s recent or historical, or where it happened.
Visit the Safer Community website to find out more, including information on what will happen if you make a report, how we manage your privacy, and what ongoing referrals, support and monitoring are available.
How to contact Safer Community
It’s important to know that Safer Community is not an emergency or crisis response service and we only operate during business hours. If you or someone else needs immediate help, please contact Victoria Police by calling Triple Zero (000).
Contact Safer Community during business hours (Monday to Friday, 9am–4pm) by:
- calling us on 03 9244 3734
- emailing us at [email protected]. Emails to this address are ONLY read by the staff trained and responsible for responding to your report. Information sent to this email address is confidential.
Other information and help
- The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria has information on how to stay safe from family violence during COVID-19.
- If you need to talk to someone, contact Deakin’s Counselling and Psychological Support (CAPS) service.
- 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) provides information, counselling and support for people affected by family violence and sexual harm.
- Daisy App and Sunny App can connect women and women with disability to local services.
- Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491) provides family violence-related telephone counselling, information and referrals for men.
- Djirra (1800 105 303) provides support for Aboriginal people experiencing family violence.
- Thorn Harbour Health has a family violence service and details of other services specifically for the LGBTIQ+ community.