A blog post encouraging folks to find hope within the COVID pandemic.
By Joelle Piercy, MSS, MLSP, LSW
Community Outreach Coordinator
As we approach the one-year mark of the pandemic and the first stay-at-home orders, we are also approaching the one-year marks of other moments in our lives: the last birthday party or play-date, the last time grandparents hugged a grandchild, the last time we saw our coworkers in person – the last time many of us felt safe. Students are still out of school, questions about variants are growing and we still face uncertainties about our future. At S+SS, we have been dealing with the “crisis within a crisis,” the reality of increased demand for services related to an increase in incidents and the severity of domestic abuse since the beginning of the pandemic.
Although we find ourselves still struggling with all of these losses and challenges, just one year later there are also many reasons for celebration and hope. As a society, we have accomplished so much in the face of adversity. Covid-19 vaccines were developed at a pace unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, and that new found technology is already being put to good use in other areas of medicine such as malaria vaccination development and cancer treatment. Technology has provided families the remote-work flexibility that they’ve been seeking for years, as well as connected distant family and friends in more meaningful ways. Communities have worked together to support healthcare workers, first responders, and each other. Every day we hear of new ways that people have found to put smiles on their neighbors’ faces.
At S+SS, after making our services available remotely, many of our programs are now accessible to domestic abuse survivors who previously struggled with transportation and childcare needs. We launched our Domestic Violence Housing First Initiative connecting domestic abuse survivors with affordable and sustainable housing solutions. Our hotline is managing more calls than ever, providing support, safety planning and information to survivors and the people who care about them.
We find ourselves in the great in-between of the pandemic where it can be hard to reconcile all of these accomplishments and the hope we are feeling, with the fear and loss that can take our breath away in the hardest moments. It may be tempting to just get back to “normal” as fast as possible. But “moving on” without addressing the individual and societal grief we are experiencing from Covid-19 is not true healing, and will prove to be unsustainable.
Based on trauma-informed, evidence-based best practices, our staff know that healing is not linear, and that recovery from trauma does not mean completely forgetting about what has happened or being completely free from the effects of what happened. Recovery happens when one can acknowledge the pain they are feeling, identify how they are impacted by the trauma, develop the skills needed to address the symptoms of trauma as they arise, and supported with the skills, tools and information required to build a brighter and safer future.
There is no better example of this than the healing journeys of domestic abuse survivors. Survivor is a title that one carries for a lifetime, because the history of abuse and trauma doesn’t go away. Instead, it becomes healthfully incorporated into the memory of one’s past and current identity – “this is part of my history and affects me, but I have the ability to cope, and to find safety and peace”.
Last year, we discussed how Covid-19 might cause collective trauma. Collective trauma is the psychological changes resulting from an event affecting a large group of people and causing widespread harm. We are still in this moment of collective trauma, so understand that whatever you are feeling right now is valid. At the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, you might (or might not) feel weepy, angry, sad, tired, nauseous, overwhelmed, or distracted. These are natural reactions to the extreme stress of this global emergency, and they don’t make the hope we are feeling right now any less real. This messy moment in time will become part of our individual and shared histories; we will remember the grief and loss, as well as our incredible ability to overcome.
Show compassion towards yourself and others, purposefully set aside time and energy for grief and self-care, and revel in the strength and resilience that all of us have shown over the past year and will continue to show in the months ahead. Find power in these two truths: we are still in crisis, and we are survivors.
If someone you know is experiencing or struggling with the trauma of previous incidents of domestic abuse, call or text our 24/7 hotline at 866.685.1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning. For additional information, visit www.safe-sound.org.