Content warning: This article discusses domestic violence and abuse. If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for help.
The sad reality is women are more likely to be affected by domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline claims that over 12 million people suffer from intimate partner violence every year. With nursing being a female-dominated profession and many nurses shifting practice to the remote setting, they may be placed at risk for violence, being in close quarters with their abuser due to their remote nursing job.
If you’re interested in a remote nursing job, read on to learn more about the signs of domestic violence, how to get help, or how to help someone else who might need you.
Why Are We Talking About This Now?
Dr. Kelsey Latimer, a nurse and clinical psychologist at KML Psychological Services, shares that rates of domestic violence have risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in women working from home.
Latimer says, “A recent study of over 13,000 cis-gender women across 30 countries showed that over 15.5% of those women experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) during the COVID pandemic.” She adds that she is both disturbed and unsurprised by these statistics. One thing she wants everyone to know about intimate partner violence? It’s about power and control. “That’s the bottom line,” she explains. So even though the COVID pandemic is not an excuse or a cause for abuse, the abuser may have felt a loss of control and increased stress in their lives. Needing to reclaim that control, they may abuse their partners.
However, she says that the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADC) reinforces that rates of IPV have always been high, despite the recent stress of the COVID pandemic. They report that 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men have experienced IPV at some point in their lives.
Recognize the Signs of Abuse
There are several types of abuse, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional or verbal abuse
- Financial abuse
- Digital or technological abuse
- Religious or spiritual abuse
- And more
It’s important to remember that not one form of abuse is more valid than another. Just because your partner is not abusing you in a certain way does not make the abuse any less traumatic or deserving of help.
Latimer shares that some of the signs of domestic violence, which you may notice in yourself or in others, include:
- Isolation. “Isolation is the key ingredient of any abusive relationship,” Latimer explains. It can be physical or emotional isolation. You may notice someone stop showing up to events, or they seem more quiet and distant. Often they appear “in their heads” and stop engaging as they normally would. Sometimes an abuser may be obvious that they are isolating you, but they could also be doing it subconsciously. Check in with yourself, and ask if you see your friends, family, and acquaintances less than you normally would and why that might be.
- Questioning your relationship. Sometimes, your gut is right. If you feel unsettled in your relationship or find yourself comparing your relationship to others, there might be a reason. Latimer says if you notice someone else is not sharing much about their relationship or showing an overly perfect image, that could be a sign of abuse.
- Searching their actions online and getting results for domestic violence resources. If you have searched something online like, “husband punching holes in the wall,” and you get a result for a domestic violence helpline, that is a reason to validate concerns you might have that your partner’s actions are abusive.
- Seeming different. “Look for differences in the people you care about,” Latimer urges. “You know them and you know when something changes.” She adds that there is often shame and secrecy with intimate partner violence, so the victim might be confused or unsure how to get help. But any fear or secrecy is a serious sign that something is not right.
Victims of abuse often question if they are being abused, and that’s normal. When not experiencing abuse with clear boundaries, like sexual or physical abuse, a partner might be unsure if an incident was a healthy argument or genuine mistreatment.
Latimer discusses that the main difference between healthy and abusive relationships is that abusive relationships instill fear in the victim. “Even if someone calls the other a name in a moment of passion, the other person can say ‘I don’t like that’ without feeling fear and the partner will apologize by accepting responsibility without minimizing their actions.” If you have a sense of fear about doing so, that is concerning, even if your partner has yet to physically harm you.
Supporting Others and Getting Help
It’s important to handle all potential domestic violence situations with extreme caution. Leaving the relationship can be when the victim is most at risk for violence or physical harm.
If you are a victim or supporting a victim, do your best to collaborate with a medical professional, mental health professional, social worker, or the domestic violence hotline to create a safety plan. Here are some tips to get started:
- Identify what is safe. Have contacts and addresses of who will support you and where you can go. Know where the nearest police station and shelter are located.
- Pack a bag. Have passwords to any financial or other accounts, a form of ID, any important documents, cash, clothing, and toiletries available if you need to make a quick escape.
- Practice your safety plan. Mentally run through each step of your safety plan. You can also notify your support system if you can do so without your abuser knowing.
Depending on the degree of abuse, your safety plan may need to be more or less extensive. Visit womenshealth.gov, or call or chat with the free Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for more information on generating a plan.
The Bottom Line
Having a remote nursing job, it’s important to understand the signs of domestic violence. Even though it’s not easy to leave, there are better days and better relationships ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence or abuse, there are resources available to help you understand the abuse and create a plan to leave. Everyone deserves to have a healthy relationship.