During the pandemic, many children have been engaged in remote learning. We’re lucky that technology provides young people access to education. The Internet has a wealth of resources. It’s been a struggle for many families and put pressure on existing domestic issues. Domestic violence is a dangerous issue that affects millions of families in the United States.
10 million people each year are impacted by domestic abuse. With the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, families that were already impacted by domestic violence experienced further challenges during the quarantine confinement. Here is how the Internet impacted families experiencing violence during COVID-19.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence or domestic abuse is the intentional infliction of harm or threat of harm against two closely bonded people. Domestic abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. Victims of domestic violence can be any age.
Domestic violence often happens in secret, and the victims are afraid to come forward. You can read more about domestic violence in this series of articles from BetterHelp. In this article, we’re focusing on children and their parents and how domestic abuse creates a sense of isolation.
Family isolation and the Internet
Online learning further isolated children from their peers and society at large during the pandemic. This has been a challenge for all families, but particularly a dangerous situation for those families experiencing domestic violence. Children who were already in crisis were forced to be in close quarters with abusive family members.
Not only that, but these children are using the Internet far more frequently during remote learning than they would be in school. The over-usage of the Internet among children can lead to isolation, depression, and anxiety. It’s difficult for children to learn how to socialize if they’re not around other kids.
Additionally, children who are victims of domestic violence may turn to the Internet for support, but access to school counselors is limited and less effective than if they were in person.
Disassociating through the Internet
Children who are victims of domestic violence want to escape their situations in any way they can. One way to mentally detach is by disassociating. The Internet provides a desirable place for a child or young person to escape into because it’s distracting and has a lot to offer. A child who is living in a domestically abusive household is craving escapism, and they may turn to the Internet to find it.
They have access because their school is located online, and they’re yearning to escape their frightening reality. Disassociation is a symptom of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). When a child retreats into the world of the Internet to avoid their traumatic existence, it may feel good. However, in reality, it’s making their trauma symptoms worse. When they snap back into reality, the abuse feels more severe and causes further damage.
Also, the dissociation into the Internet world creates a false sense of security, which could dissuade a young person from reaching out for help. It can be healthy to escape the pain of abuse for a while, but when it prevents a person from seeking help, it can paralyze them. It could cause a young person to feel worse, creating a sense of hopelessness. Their PTSD symptoms could increase, or they may feel a sense of overwhelming depression.
The Internet can provide helpful resources to victims of domestic violence
The Internet can be triggering and disruptive to young people who have mental disorders and are victims of domestic violence, but it can also provide helpful resources. It can be incredibly scary for a young person experiencing domestic violence. They may not know where to turn for help, but there are ways that the Internet can support them. Children and young people in quarantine during COVID-19 may have turned to online support groups for domestic violence.
Many different sites provide Internet support for victims of DV. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, you can visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline, which has a lot of helpful resources, including support groups. They can also chat with a counselor online, and it’s free and confidential. In that way, the Internet provides mental health support, and a young person can find some relief.
Is the Internet hurting youth mental health?
The Internet has the power to help or harm young people. It depends on how it’s used. In the case of domestic violence, the Internet can be a place where a young person can escape their pain or find helpful resources.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can get help. Call 800.799.SAFE (7233) or visit The Hotline for more information on receiving support. It’s never too late to find support. You deserve to live in a safe and secure home where you are loved.