Abusive Homes in the Time of COVID
How it's Putting Kids at Harm
By: Tina Lalonde
Photo via Wix.com
Three regions in Quebec are now in red-alert regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, which officially marks the beginning of the much-talked-about ‘second wave’ that we’ve been expecting. Though this affects everyone negatively, it has a particularly detrimental effect on the mental well-being of the young adult population who use work and school as a means of escaping an abusive and toxic home environment.
A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute found that 50% of Canadians report a worsening of their mental health since the pandemic began, and many feel worried and anxious. In abusive households the pandemic worsens already worrying patterns of anxiety and depression.
"It ruined my relationship with my parents."
Marley and Jamie Siddall were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and since they both came out of the closet, their relationship with their parents has worsened significantly. Spending 6 months together has caused a lot of confrontation regarding the so-called “elephant in the room.” Jamie Siddall shares that she felt “trapped” in her home. “They always disregarded our feelings,” she says, “I had a lot of repressed anger towards them.” She freely shared the information, but I couldn’t help but notice a shaky leg and a lack of eye contact. Her sister, Marley, explains how their parents would “constantly say offensive jokes about homosexuals,” knowing that their daughters were not straight. The Siddal sisters say that their parents prefer to ignore their daughters’ sexualty, but whenever it is brought up, they have fits, and scream at their children that it’s gross and unnatural. “She would constantly criticize our bodies and make us feel horrible about our appearance,” Marley says, referring to her mother. Marley also shares that she struggled to have structure in her life. “I would be very hard on myself for not being productive, and I was constantly drained around them,” she confesses. Jamie’s experience was similar. She was “horribly depressed,” and would do nothing all day but “eat and sleep.”
Michelle To is a student at Dawson College who had a rough time in lockdown as well. She also goes on to say that “outside of home, I’m Michelle, but here, I’m a nameless daughter, a chore doer.” She explains that they would never split the workload between her and her brothers, but instead, dump it all on her and tell her that it will make her “a great housewife,” and that this was “for her own good.”
“It ruined my relationship with my parents. Before lockdown, I had my own things going on, but seeing them every day just reminds me of past trauma that I’ve repressed. It bubbles up and forces you to confront unwanted feelings,” she says. To’s mental health weakened. “It deteriorated within a few weeks,” she says, “I was getting panic attacks and getting really depressed.”
Mental health is an important topic that needs to be spoken about more than ever during this unfortunate situation. Many people, especially “Gen Z”, are unfortunately facing the brunt of the quiet crisis.