Coping with Covid-19 by Chloe Combi, part 1: Safety

Illustration shows a young woman sitting on a sofa reading. She is in a cage with birds flying around her.
Hello! I’m Chloe Combi and I’m a writer, speaker, consultant and expert on youth issues. In my first book, Generation Z: Their Voices, Their Lives, I interviewed over 5,000 members of Generation Z (people born between the mid-to-late 1990s and the early 2010s), which gave the first portrayal of that generation. My next book is an even more in-depth look at Generation Z and Generation A (those born after 2010) and there I am also helping develop two TV shows. I advise brands, companies, and political parties around the world, but live in London by choice!

The end of the world as we know it?

If someone had told us less than a month ago, The End of the F***** World would feel less like a show we like and more like a documentary/mirror being held up to most of our states of mind, we probably would have laughed. But we were all so young a month ago….

There isn’t much point at this stage in lamenting the situation we are in – because at this point we are all in it, and though we have every right to be angry at the government for their slow response, or angry that we can’t hit the shops, or meet friends to play football, or go to the pub – that is just the reality. Raging about it, will both exhaust and scare you more, and doesn’t change anything for now.

What we can and must examine is how we deal with all of our new realities, and also be mindful of the fact ‘reality’ means something different for everyone. Whilst it’s true that the reality of isolation isn’t much fun for most of us (though the introverts out there might beg to differ!), for those of us who are safe, have food and enough money to cover bills, families we basically get along with, and pretty good mental health, this new reality will be tolerable.

For many, many others who don’t have these things, this new reality of isolation can and will mean something very different.

Existential crisis?

As I research my next book on young people, I have noticed a real increase in general, existential, unspecified dread along the lines of “what if we’re never going to be able leave the house again?”, “will this ever be over?” and “what happens when my cat catches Covid-19?” And though these are excellent and perfectly justifiable questions, it might be of some reassurance to know that everyone from young to old, poor to rich, powerless to powerful, is for once united in the same need and same goal, and absolutely focused on finding a solution for this and getting back to normal, and it will happen eventually, even if the world is a little bit different – and, who knows, maybe a bit better – thereafter.

The Big Three

What is worth closer attention are problems, issues and anxieties that are clearly affecting those by the thousands or even hundreds of thousands of you, and though worded, expressed and experienced differently, are similar in how they are impacting sufferers. With this in mind, we decided to focus this month on three of the most immediate, pressing and serious problems so many of you are dealing with. The three big issues that are coming in relate to safety, mental health and finances/money.

Though there are many variations on these problems, these seem to be a good summation of how they are affecting so many of you:

Safety

“I’m not/don’t feel safe at home” and “being stuck at home is putting me in danger/at risk from serious arguments/physical abuse/emotional abuse/sexual abuse.”

Mental health

“My mental health is suffering – my anxiety is worsening/my eating disorder is getting worse/I’m not coping/I feel suicidal.”

Finances/Money

“I’m not sure I/my family are going to get through this.” “We don’t have the money/resources to cope/we’ve lost jobs and/or work and I/we can’t pay all my bills and eat.”

Safety

As these are all such serious and complex problems, we’re going to deal with them separately, in our ‘Coping with Covid-19’ series. So, this week, we’re going to focus on Safety.

First things first: You being safe where you live isn’t a luxury, or something that you should hope might happen – it’s your absolute right. Everyone has the need and absolute right to feel safe where they live, and you are no exception. You have the right to be safe. So, what does safety in the home really mean? I asked the experts, and these are the things that should not be happening to you. If they are, it’s gone way past people being a bit ratty and sick of being under each other’s feet. It means you are not safe:

  • Being picked on or having someone constantly start arguments with you and say nasty things about you.
  • Being sent out to make money illegally or in a way that isn’t safe/legitimate.
  • Being pushed, smacked, kicked, hit, punched or any other physical force that hurts or scares you.
  • Threats – “if you don’t do X, I’ll hurt you/throw you out/take it out on your sibling” etc.
  • Sexually inappropriate or suggestive comments that you don’t want/scare/upset you.
  • Sexual behaviour/touching/approaches/overtures.
  • Sex – non-consenting sex acts and/or rape.

If any/some/all of the above are happening to you, the most important thing to realise is, Covid-19 or no Covid-19, you do not have to put up with this, suffer in silence or remain in the place where this is happening to you. There are a number of resources available to you.

Some solutions 

Speak to someone at your school/college

Most schools/colleges are running barebones timetables and many teachers, headteachers and support staff remain on the premises. Tell the people at home you need to go pick up work/do a class and go tell a trusted teacher. They will have immediate access to emergency resources and organisations that can help you and can remove you from immediate danger.

Don’t delay. Go into school/college and ask for help. If you live in a more remote area, or attend a school that’s totally shut down, you will have the email addresses of senior staff. Email them today – they will help you.

Reach out to The Police

Many people have mixed feelings about the police, but they’re really well trained to deal with victim support – and if you have been made to feel unsafe then you are a victim. Dialling 999 can be scary, so if you can/have the availability, visit a station. If you are a young person at risk, they will help you and will connect you with someone who is trained to deal with the problem you are having.

Talk to a relative or friend

If you have a responsible and sympathetic relative or friend – especially one who can remove you from immediate danger – tell them. There is nothing to be ashamed of, remember you are the victim, and now is the time to reach out for help.

What if telling someone isn’t an option?

If you can’t face telling people, or don’t feel you have people to turn to, The Mix is always there for you, so reach out and speak to their team of experts and trained volunteers about anything that’s on your mind.

Check out The Mix’s relationship tool to understand your relationship dynamic, and what you can do if it’s not as healthy as it should be.

Read The Mix’s articles on women and domestic violence, male domestic violence and how to recognise sexual offences.

You can also contact the NSPPC and Safe Lives. These are all fantastic organisations who will offer you immediate practical advice and will be able to offer assistance in the longer-term.

Remember – being safe and well is your right and there is no higher priority than taking steps to ensure you are and stay safe and well!

Next Steps

  • You can talk to Childline about anything. Call them for free on 0800 1111 or visit their website.
  • Refuge offers advice and support to victims of domestic violence. 0808 2000 247
  • Solace Women's Aid find creative and innovative ways to support thousands of women, children and young people each year from prevention and crisis to recovery and independence.
  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Crisis helps single homeless people, aiming to break the cycle of homelessness.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 03-Apr-2020

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