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Experts talk on surviving quarantine

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Laurie Shiell, the executive director of Centre Against Abuse (Photograph supplied)
Betty Doyling, a personal fitness trainer (Photograph supplied)

The leader of a crisis support service offered advice to people in quarantine who suffered domestic violence.

Laurie Shiell, the Centre Against Abuse executive director, said that the need to stay at home under coronavirus rules sometimes meant extended time with an abuser.

She pointed out that during the island’s shelter-in-place period last year, people could still get out for groceries on specific days.

Ms Shiell said: “This time you can’t leave your home at all so that increases the chance of you being harmed two-fold.

“You don’t know if that person is taking your phone, they might have broken it already because breaking phones is something that abusers tend to do to totally isolate you and cut you off from everyone.

“You may not have any outlet to the community at all.”

She said if people were worried about a friend, relative or neighbour who was in quarantine and had not responded to messages, they could consider contacting police to carry out a wellness check.

Addressing anyone stuck at home in an abusive relationship, she said: “Give us a call if you are able to.

“If not, stay out of rooms that have dangerous weapons in them, such as the kitchen.

“If you feel a flare up, you want to be in a room that has an exit, you don’t want to be caught in a bathroom where the only exit is a small window that you can’t get out of.”

Ms Shiell said family and friends could be put “on alert” that their assistance might be needed. Switching on a specific light could act as a signal for help.

She added: “You kind of have to set up some safety mechanisms for yourself for this time.

“Family and friends can assist you in the safest way possible for them.”

Ms Shiell said that police have plans for getting domestic abuse survivors to safety.

She added that help from the CAA could include putting in place a Domestic Violence Protection Order, which can be done remotely when someone is in quarantine.

She said the organisation has adapted since the pandemic started and much of its work is carried out by phone or on Zoom teleconferences.

Ms Shiell said that if an abuser turns up at the home of a quarantined domestic abuse survivor, the police should be called on 911 in an emergency or on 211 if the immediate need has passed.

The Government said this week that an estimated 10,000 people were in quarantine as the fourth wave of coronavirus infections swept the island.

Betty Doyling, a personal fitness trainer, offered tips to help people boost their mental and physical health when stuck at home.

She pointed out that quarantine meant missing out on the atmosphere of exercising in groups.

Ms Doyling said: “The biggest challenge for people is that even though they are trying to get fit, they’re looking for a sense of community and also looking forward to kind of forming relationships in the classes that they go to, even if it’s just temporary camaraderie.

“It’s good to be around people for that purpose.”

The trainer added: “In the classes, even though we are six feet apart, I notice that the sense of warmth is still there.”

She said: “I think one of the most important things, especially for mental health, is finding someone to connect with.

“I’ve even allowed my children more social media time because if you’re not going out, you do need that outlet to connect with someone.”

Ms Doyling, who is a columnist for The Royal Gazette, said that people in quarantine can adopt 14-day challenges, including mental or social goals like completing a crossword puzzle or contacting a friend every day.

She suggested sitting outside on the porch to get fresh air and sunlight.

Ms Doyling added that the internet was a good resource for people who wanted to do physical workouts at home, including high or low impact options, sessions for children, yoga and Pilates.

She said island gyms and personal trainers also offered online classes.

* The Centre Against Abuse runs a 24-hour hotline on 297-8278. The Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute’s 24-hour crisis line is 239-1111. The Government’s Emotional Wellbeing Hotline runs from 5pm to 9pm on Monday to Saturday at 543-1111.

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Published September 18, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated September 18, 2021 at 7:55 am)

Experts talk on surviving quarantine

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