By Angela Kelly, Jimboomba Times | 30 April, 1pm
TWENTY per cent of the abuse family counselling services are dealing with is related to COVID-19.
Services providing counselling and protection for victims of domestic violence have been inundated with calls with violent abuse escalating as families are forced to stay at home.
Logan and Redlands Centre For Women and Co chief executive Stacey Ross said there had not been a huge increase in cases but it was concerning that the level of complexity and the extremeness of the violence had increased.
“We are concerned that these victims are isolated with their perpetrators and are in danger at the moment,” she said.
COVID-19 has forced most of the community into isolation and placed financial strain and stress on families reliant upon income from insecure work.
Most women’s health and domestic family violence services have staff working from home wherever possible, with services offered via telephone and video conferencing.
Ms Ross referred to her team as fire fighters of trauma and violence.
“There has been no reduction in what we do, we are adapting to working differently. We are conducting counselling over the phone and have a huge increase in communication on our social media. We have also added resources to our website,” she said.
Ms Ross said she was concerned that cases could start impacting on the lives of team members who were working around the clock.
Sarah Vuzem from YFS Jimboomba said she had noticed an increase in psychological abuse, with abusers withholding necessities.
Some women had reported an increase in men using alcohol and drugs which was leading to a rise in DV.
“We have seen psychological abuse of children and an increased tactic of abuse around contact arrangements – men wanting to alter access with children, increase access with children or not return children as per agreement,” Ms Vuzem said.
The centre had dealt with cases where men had taken stimulus payments ($750) from women.
“I think the spike is due to the high levels of isolation mixed with perpetrators being at home more. Women are being monitored more and have less of an option to leave or seek help from family, friends or services,” Ms Vuzem said.
She urged victims to tell someone what was happening to they could check in on them regularly.
Services like DVConnect provide emergency transport and accommodation as well as crisis counselling and safety planning to help women, men, children and pets.
They can be contacted 24/7 on 1800 811 811 or go to the website dvconnect.org.
Urgent calls about violence can be made to 000. Other DV contact numbers are 1800 737 732 and 3050 3060.