Yes, we are all cooped up at home a lot more now.
In my area, with code red in effect, we are asked to stay home as much as possible and go out only to purchase essential items. All stores selling only nonessential items are closed. The restaurants are closed except for take-home food.
No one other than household family members is permitted in our homes. Any type of gathering inside or outside the home is not permitted with others; only immediate household members can gather. Many children are engaged in remote learning and homeschooling programs, so they are at home almost all the time.
While these isolation measures appear to be bringing down COVID-19 numbers in our area, the global household isolation situation has me worried regarding other threats that might be brewing in homes more so because of the isolation orders.
I’ve read quite a bit about the increased incidence of family violence episodes erupting in homes over these past months and measures put in place to increase resources for those vulnerable persons impacted by this. However, given my personal and professional background, my thoughts go directly to worries about higher incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation potentially being on the rise in homes under isolation right now.
Are there more measures in place to deal with this threat?
We know homes are one of the most common, unsafe places for vulnerable children and adults if there is a sexual predator living under the same roof. And we also know that, as a society, we are still not adept at or inclined to really look for evidence that sexual abuses could be happening right now with people we know, and even with those closest to us.
Well, I think the time has come to give this some serious thought—and action, too. Have a critical look around you. Turn on and tune into your spider senses. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions in a kind and respectful way when you see clues or sense problems brewing under the surface. Trust your niggling feelings of restlessness about uncertain circumstances occurring in a home known to you.
Just bringing up the issue, drawing attention to your concerns, speaking your own truth about your worries is one big step forward for any potential can of worms to open and for changes to the status quo to be set in motion.
Your act of speaking up creates permission for victims to also speak up as well. Your speaking up gives potential victims the message that you are a safe person to confide in—that you are likely to believe them. Giving voice to your concerns puts any potential predators on notice that light is being shed, and attention is being paid, regarding any hints of sexual misbehaviours happening in homes.
Sexual abuse and exploitation is a problem or a threat that can occur in some homes at any time. But during this Covid time when homes are in isolation, I think the threat now is even greater. Isolation conditions offer predators more opportunity and increased access to potential victims.
I am a victim and survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a trusted adult family member. I am a victim and survivor of sexual exploitation by a medical professional entrusted to provide care for me as an older teen. I am a retired nurse and social service worker whose specialty was working in the area of sexual abuse and exploitation affecting vulnerable children and adults for nearly 30 years.
I am now a sex educator learning the importance of speaking up about all matters related to sexuality, to eradicate unhealthy sexual abuses, and to promote healthy sexual pleasure.
Collectively, if we all begin to speak up more regarding all matters in our lives pertaining to sexuality, then the silenced and secretive historical abuses can become acknowledged, exposed, and dealt with more openly now. And we begin to model the handling of how best to deal with current sexual abuse threats looming in our homes and elsewhere today.
Speak up with sensitivity and kindness about suspicions past and present, but no longer be silent.