CDC calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread. It's important to remember for some victims Masks and face coverings can be triggering for a number of reasons. Wearing a face covering can trigger memories of abuse, such as the feeling of having a hand covering your mouth or your face pushed into a pillow. They can also make us feel claustrophobic which can trigger fears of having a panic attack or losing control of our breathing. Survivors have also reported that not being able to see the faces of those around them is intimidating and makes them feel worried.
Possible solutions for victims: practice wearing your face covering at home. Take the time to get used to how it feels on your face. Find the right face covering--find a face covering that is comfortable and doesn't irritate you. Get Creative! May wearing a scarf or handkerchief may be less restrictive. Make it smell good--use a scent that makes you feel relaxed (i.e. lavender). Ask for support from your loved ones and ask them for support. They can go for walks with you to ease into wearing masks or help you find the right covering.
We hope victims and survivors are able to wear masks safely, but if wearing a face covering causes severe distress be confident in your decision to not wear one. No survivor should feel shamed for not being able to wear a mask. Stand with survivors in the days ahead. Remember perpetrators will try to restrict women and children's movements due to their lack of ability to wear a mask safely.
Written by staff of the Alliance