Mask fitted, safety card is located in the seat in front of you Welcome to another week. How was your weekend? Are you able to switch to weekend mode easily? I don’t know about you, but I really need routine. During the lockdown period I’ve become more aware of needing that structure around me – so although routine can sound dull and tedious, there are many benefits. Experts say with routine we get more done and we are, believe it or not, more creative. But most of all, routine keeps us grounded. In the Children’s Team we spent some time last week chatting about the importance of routine when working from home – we all agreed that getting up at the same time each day helps and making sure we continue with self-care which really helps to stay on track and separate the working week from the weekend. Now in week seven of lockdown – we think we’ve found our rhythm and each of us knows what works for us. Last week we focused on our own psychological safety (routine so important here) and helping our children to feel emotionally safe – but what about being physically safe? For many children living in a household with domestic abuse, school provided the routine and much-needed respite. With schools closed and communities ‘shut down’, how can we help ourselves and our children to stay safe when violence erupts. No one deserves to be abused and, in all honesty, it’s not always easy to know if you are suffering from domestic abuse – you may make excuses for certain actions or minimise behaviours (‘it’s not that bad’), you may convince yourself that you are overreacting or put the abuse down to other stresses. What we do know, however, is that the general pattern of domestic violence is that it gets worse over time. What we also know is that it is not that easy to ‘just leave’ there are many different reasons why it isn’t straightforward – believing promises to change; pressure from others; and, contrary to popular myth, ending a relationship does not always ensure the end of violence. It may, in fact, place women and children at greater risk. If you or your children are in immediate danger – call the Police on 999. If you cannot speak or if speaking will make things worse – press 55 on your keypad. You will be put through to your local Police who will manage your call in a way that means you don't have to speak so that they can send you help. If you are not in immediate danger but would like to talk to someone about what is going on for you and perhaps look at what options you have then please call Essex Compass on 0330 333 7 444 or go to https://www.essexcompass.org.uk they are available and ready to talk to you 24/7. It’s really important you are able to manage your safety as best you can – a safe parent/carer, means a safe child, so if you have a Domestic Abuse Practitioner work with them to review your safety plan whilst in lockdown – either way you should plan where you can go in an emergency, is there a safe area in your home you can go to should an argument happen, do you have access to money and phone/charger? Who can you tell? We have lots of advice and guidance available on our website: Thinking about leaving Keeping yourself safe Leaving Safely and here are some national agencies that can also offer information and guidance:- Women’s Aid Women’s Aid is a national charity for women and children working to end domestic abuse. https://www.womensaid.org.uk Refuge Refuge run freephone 24/7 national domestic abuse helpline. https://www.refuge.org.uk National Domestic Abuse Helpline https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk If there is violence in the home, it’s important our children and young people can be as safe as they can – you can create a safety plan with your child. Is there a room in the house where your child feels safe should there be a fight or an argument? What about siblings? They might all want to stay together in one room. Does your child know how to call the Police? Does your child know their address? Can your child leave the house to alert a friend or neighbour? Is there another relative that they can tell? So much to think about, I know, which is why it’s important to have a plan – it provides you with instructions when you need them the most. By putting things down on paper, it will help clear your mind but give you something concrete to refer to when you need to. Below are links to safety plans and support sites that you can use with your child if it is safe to do so – you may need to consider what you will do if your child tells your partner about their safety plan, or if your partner finds out some other way. We suggest using a code word instead of calling it a safety plan and try to make sure your child and any other trusted person knows. For help with this visit:- http://thehideout.org.uk/young-people/what-can-i-do/safety-plan/ https://www.reducingtherisk.org.uk/cms/sites/default/files/resources/children/SafetyPlanningChildWorkbook2015.pdf https://www.julianhouse.org.uk/projects-and-services/domestic-abuse/safety-planning.htm Talking about safety may make your child feel overwhelmed – assure them as best you can that the abuse is not their fault, check in with them regularly throughout the day, ask them what you can do to help. Remember that seeing a parent in danger can be very scary for a child even if violence is ‘normal’ in their lives. Perhaps use some of the strategies we talked about last week to help your child feel grounded. Last week we ended on the three R’s – today we’ll use the three C’s:- Communicate – go through the safety plan, make sure your child understands, get them to repeat your address back to you just to be sure Connect – ask them how they are doing. Are they concerned? What can you do to help? Can another trusted person provide support? Consistency – think about ways you can increase predictability in your child’s life, knowing what will happen (as best you can) is key to managing emotions So do what you can, when you can, taking it one day at a time. I’ll be back on Wednesday – so until then stay safe.