The impact of Covid-19 and lockdown from a survivor’s perspective
Sharon Hendry speaks to our Survivor Ambassador, Mandy Thomas about lockdown from a survivor’s perspective.
Author Mandy Thomas, 54, endured 18 years of abuse from partner Eustace Douglas before he was jailed for nine years in 2003 for GBH with intent and false imprisonment — and also received a concurrent six-year term for rapes. But after just five years, he was released on licence — and shortly afterwards, her eldest son Daniel took his own life aged 22.
Thomas, who also grew up in a violent home, wrote about her ordeal in best-selling book You Can’t Run and now offers peer support in her Women’s Aid Survivor Ambassador role.
Published: 12th June 2020
“As soon as lockdown was announced, I felt huge dread in the pit of my stomach knowing thousands of women and children would have no escape at all from their abusers. It sheds a light on times of my life that I cannot forget. A whole world of torture comes to mind.
My ex would have got a high from this kind of control. Watching my every move, following me from room to room, breathing down my neck and randomly picking on things he’d pluck out of the air to wage his war.
His power would swell knowing there was no escape for his prey and I would be walking on egg shells trying not to anger the beast. The children would also be at risk and need to be instructed to be as quiet as mice, so as not to attract attention.
Then there’s the control over whether you get to eat or not. You might be forced to eat his creation in front of him while he stands over you, glaring and grinning. Your fears are heightened. Has he spat in it? Poisoned it? And there is no respite in sleep patterns which are also controlled by a terrorist trying to weaken his victims.
“Children witness no laughter, love or normality in this sort of controlled environment. Child abuse is rife. I would not have survived the lockdown in my childhood. School was my normality, my sanity, my freedom, my escape – and it FED ME.
In one sense, I made it out alive but anyone who has ever lived with a narcissistic, psychopathic controller will be re-triggered by the feelings of lockdown. PTSD is for life, all you can do is learn how to deal with the triggers.
Services are still available but when you’re in the thick of it and being monitored closely it can seem like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Staying safe is a minute by minute, life or death preoccupation.
My book has sold 20% more copies during lockdown and has hopefully alerted the public to listen out more to neighbours and keep their eyes open for signs. This pandemic is an abusers’ paradise. We all need to act to burst their bubble.”